Written and directed by Matthew Chapman, “The Ledge” attempts to fashion itself as a philosophical meditation posing as a thriller. Hotel manager Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) has fallen for Shana (Liv Tyler), who works as a chambermaid while being married to Joe (Patrick Wilson), whose strict religious fundamentalism has apparently straightened out her life.
The film consists largely of flashbacks to the lives of these people as Gavin, on the ledge of a high-rise rooftop, threatens to jump. His reasons, drawn out by Hollis (Terrence Howard), the police detective who tries to talk him down, soon become clear. Hollis has his own emotional burdens and the two men bond.
Chapman coaxes good performances from his cast, especially Wilson, who makes Joe’s immense conflicts a matter of empathy as much as abhorrence. But Chapman doesn’t have the filmmaking skills to conceal the talky, formulaic narrative, and in the end, the arguments for and against salvation and persecution stand for not much more than big-ticket items in a marked-down melodrama. Grade: B- (Rated R for sexuality, language and some violent content.)