THE STORY – A climber trapped on the face of a mountain fights off four killers stood on an overhanging ledge twenty feet above her.
THE CAST – Brittany Ashworth, Ben Lamb & Nathan Welsh
THE TEAM – Howard J. Ford (Director) & Tom Boyle (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 86 Minutes
By Josh Parham
There is something that can be uniquely engaging about witnessing a film that showcases a thrilling survival narrative. It’s a way to vicariously enjoy perilous situations that are tangible enough to exist in the real world without ever fully indulging in such behaviors that would put one into scenarios in the first place. This foundation is ground for much potential for a thoroughly entertaining spectacle. However, like any cinematic endeavor, the premise alone is not what makes the final results successful. It still takes a careful assemblage of storytelling, performance, and craft to create a truly compelling work. That checklist was quite elusive throughout the entire duration of “The Ledge,” a sloppy and pedestrian actioner that fails to capture any sense of entertainment in its laborious presentation.
Rock climbing may not be the most idyllic form of recreation, but for Kelly (Brittany Ashworth) and Sophie (Anaïs Parello), it is a moment of great bonding. The event is especially meaningful to Kelly as they approach the anniversary of her fiancée’s tragic passing. While on this excursion, they cross paths with a group of boisterous men whose ringleader is the odious Josh (Ben Lamb). All of these guys are toxic to some degree, but none seethe quite as much rage and animosity as him. After a night of drinking together, an incident involving Josh and Sophie leads to him attacking and eventually killing her. Kelly records their disposal of her body on a video camera and escapes to the mountainside in an attempt to evade them. As she begins the ascent, she must battle both the attackers and the natural elements in a taught race for endurance.
On the surface, one can imagine the promise of the premise to be thoroughly captivating without ever reaching grandiose ambitions. There is room for such fare to exist, but it is unfortunate that none of these intriguing aspects ever come together satisfyingly. Howard J. Ford’s direction is severely serviceable, often indulging in a cheap and glossy aesthetic that struggles to convey any of the gritty tension necessary to propel the momentum forward. The lifeless design of the visual effects only further undercuts the supposed danger in these scenes. In truth, are a few well-executed sequences, particularly a contentious knife fight played out while dangling off the side of a cliff. However, even this is a rare moment that does not elevate the other mundane set pieces.
As unremarkable as the filmmaking may be, the screenplay is what truly sinks this whole enterprise. Tom Boyle litters every scene with stale dialogue spoken by incredibly flat and wooden characters. Even for such a relatively simple idea, the villains here do not manage to portray any kind of riveting aura. They are primarily generic and cartoonish, which ends up robbing them of a more compelling sense of menace. While no one would ever anticipate such a work to delve into resonant emotional depths, what is presented is a tiresome array of weak motivations that impart the bare minimum of characterization. The lazy broad strokes taken within the script are what ultimately contribute to this dull and tedious experience.
One would not assume the acting to be the most celebrated feature of this kind of film, and that assumption is correct for this piece. Ashworth does deserve some credit for anchoring much of the film and manages to carry the story through her physicality. It’s not the most affectingly resonant turn one could give, but she does enough to serve as a decent lead for this material. That is about the extent of the praise for this ensemble, for which the title of worst offender sadly belongs to Lamb. While a bad performance is not solely an actor’s fault, it must be stated how his histrionics do not craft an alluring portrait. It’s a pretty shallow delivery that makes most of the efforts to showcase a terrifying personality laughable in its presentation. The rest of the cast doesn’t make much of an impression, though they are still somewhat stilted if not as overtly unsuccessful as the film’s main antagonist.
Regrettably, the more engrossing version that “The Ledge” could have been is completely evasive in the final product. The foundation is there to manifest an amusing if fleeting exercise, but nothing much of the sort comes to fruition. While one can point to a scene here or there that does successfully establish the necessary suspense, most of the scenes are tiring and uneventful. With banal filmmaking, poor writing, and performances that range from mediocre to dreadful, there isn’t much that distinguishes the film from the litany of other disposable thrillers in existence. There is always a possibility for such a familiar setting to break out and become a more appealing ordeal. However, that was not fulfilled here.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Brittany Ashworth does her best to carry the film with her physically dedicated performance. Some sequences feature some well-executed tension.
THE BAD – The survival thriller narrative is dull and tedious, weighed down by banal filmmaking and a weak script. The dialogue is stale, and the characters are wooden. Most of the ensemble features performances ranging from serviceable to dreadful. The visual effects are mostly flat and lifeless.