Film Review: The Ledge (dir by Howard J. Ford)

One year ago, Kelly (Brittany Ashworth) and her boyfriend, Luca (Talha Senturk), were climbing a mountain in Italy.  It was a great experience, until Luca put his foot on the wrong part of the mountain and promptly plunged to his death.

Now, on the anniversary of Luca’s fatal fall, Kelly and her friend Sophie (Anias Parello) are planning on climbing the mountain in his memory.  However, the night before their scheduled climb, they meet four friends.  Josh (Ben Lamb), Zach (Louis Boyer), Taylor (David Wayman), and Reynolds (Nathan Welsh) have known each other since they were kids.  They grew up together.  They went to high school and college together.  Now, they still go on weekend trips together, hoping to hold onto some remnant of their disappearing youth.  They’re a tightly-knit group, even though Zach, Taylor, and Reynolds seem to be a bit weary of Josh.

Josh invites Kelly and Sophie to hang out with the group.  Kelly, who is still mourning Luca, quickly grows disgusted with Josh’s overbearing and toxic personality.  Leaving Sophie behind, Kelly returns to her cabin to get some sleep.  When Sophie doesn’t return to the cabin, Kelly steps outside to look for her and discovers and films the four men tossing Sophie over the edge of a cliff.

With the men now pursuing her, Kelly has no choice but to climb the mountain from which Luca previously fell.  The men chase after her, reaching the top of the mountain before her and leaving Kelly trapped between the rocks below and Josh above.  Josh says that he just wants the camera but Kelly knows that there’s no way Josh is going to let her escape the mountain alive.

There’s a slightly interesting idea at the heart of The Ledge.  While Josh is, from the start, an obvious sociopath, the other three men are portrayed with a bit more ambiguity.  All three of them know that Josh is dangerous and, when Josh initially kills Sophie, all three of them initially resist his demands that they help him cover up what has happened.  In the end, though, all three of them set aside their qualms and literally get blood on their hands.  Taking as individuals, Taylor, Zach, and Reynolds are all level-headed and even likable but none of them are willing to stand up to Josh and, when they get together as a group, only Reynolds is the only one to weakly protest their actions.  Even though Zach, Taylor, and Reynolds are not as vicious as Josh, they all became complicit in his actions when they decided that their loyalty to the group was more important than doing the right thing.  As such, it doesn’t matter that Zach has a family or that Taylor initially tried to calm Josh down.  It doesn’t even matter that the guilt-stricken Reynolds, at one point, allows Kelly to run past him rather than attempt to capture her.  For all of the guilt that they feel as a result of their actions, Taylor, Zach, and Reynolds are all complicit because none of them were willing to do the right thing from the start.  The fact that they don’t do more to stop Josh make them just as guilty as he is.

As I said, it’s an interesting idea but the film doesn’t really do much with it.  Indeed, once Kelly starts to climb that mountain, the narrative gets bogged down with flashbacks to her relationship with Luca and scenes of Josh shouting insults at her while she climbs.  The film features some striking shots  and Brittany Ashworth is a likable lead but the narrative momentum stalls out early.  It turns out that there’s only so much time you can spend watching one person climb and one person yell until your attention starts to wander elsewhere.  Much like Luka, The Ledge gets off to a promising enough start but then loses its grip and falls back to Earth.