Chapman’s just takes things more seriously, tells the story of all that happened before it, and plops a terrific performance right on top.
As manager of a hotel, Gavin (Charlie Hunnam, TV’s “Sons of Anarchy”) hires married college student Shana (Liv Tyler, “Super”) for a part-time housekeeping gig. Her husband, Joe (Patrick Wilson, “Insidious”), is a super-strict, fundamentalist homophobe, and his close-mindedness eventually forces Shana into Gavin’s atheist arms and against his scruffy chin.
It’s easy because Gavin isn’t exactly subtle: “You have a very sexy mouth,” he tells her. “A very sexy married mouth,” she replies. Once Joe finds out, it’s Old Testament time, vowing that one of the adulterers must pay in death: Either Gavin must jump from the building in an hour, or Shana will take a bullet to the brain. Gavin relays his dilemma to a cop (Terrence Howard, “Iron Man”) trying to talk him down. (Probably because Howard’s a co-producer on the film, his character is given a fairly unnecessary subplot about his fertility troubles.)
Although the trailer screams “Adultery thriller!,” Chapman’s work is really a drama with a thriller conclusion. It’s cut from the same cloth as Adrian Lyne’s “Unfaithful” — or any film from the philandering spouses subgenre, for that matter (Chapman wrote one before in 1992’s “Consenting Adults”) — and then dipped in a dye of religious philosophy. That story element is the only one that makes “The Ledge” stand out among its peers, as its debate scenes between Joe and Gavin genuinely awkward and uncomfortable.
Everything else is rather flat and bland, mostly because Hunnam and Tyler haven’t the heft to pull off these dramatics, much less make us care for them. As for Wilson, he’s the picture’s saving grace. Can this guy do wrong? Too bad he’s the supporting character. —Rod Lott