This movie was fun. It gives you an easy to hate villain, a high stakes situation, and a set of solid performances by some great actors. It also gives you huge plot holes, TV style budget directing, a tremendously unearned ending, and a plot that would have been more at home in a 30-45 minute TV show.
Lets start with the good. I enjoyed this film. It was fun, felt sufficiently tense, told a somewhat interesting story, and features lots of good performances from good actors. You are probably aware that the film has Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, and Ed Harris - they all do a great job. There are loads of good actors in this film though, including Anthony Mackie (you know him from The Hurt Locker and Marvel films), Kyra Sedgwick (the closer), Ed Burns (Saving Private Ryan), and William Sadler (Shawshank Redemption, The Pacific, Deep Space 9, Die Hard 2, you know him from several places). The character writing for all of them is good, and they all nail their parts. This results in a film with surprisingly good acting, even in the smaller roles. The story being told is somewhat interesting, and it panders heavily to try and make the villains unlikable and the heroes likable underdogs under enormous adversity.
Weirdly, despite their excellent cast and despite how the film is marketed, this film is not aiming high. This is not trying to tell an incredible twisting tale of deception. It is not a high stakes adrenaline rush heist movie. The first half of the movie is a drawn out suspenseful character drama, and the back half is a poorly shot action movie. The entire thing is held together with huge plot holes and wrapped up with an out of place ending. The ending was so poorly done that I feel like loads of supporting scenes must have been cut out of the movie.
Despite the plot holes and unsupported ending suggesting that the movie was butchered in the cutting room, this movie is also stretched out with scenes that could have been changed or cut without affecting anything. I think this could have easily been cut into a TV show without losing anything interesting. The movie stretches itself out far longer than it should be, with scenes that end up being irrelevant, scenes that continue for longer than they need to (a big mistake in a movie meant to be as suspenseful as this), and a meandering plot that could have had 2 huge sections (and about 40 minutes of film) rewritten without changing anything.
This film could have easily been cut into a TV show, and the camerawork actually befits a TV show far more than a feature length film. There are far too many close up angles and poorly framed shots to believe that the main character actually is standing on a ledge... which is particular poor filmmaking in this case because as far as I know they actually did film Sam Worthington actually acting while standing on a ledge some 20 stories up in the air. I think they actually did it legitimately, but whoever was in charge of the camerawork and directing was only familiar with how to do it from a TV standpoint. The film is constantly shot in the same way a TV show would fake it, with angles hiding the background and the steep drop, almost as if they were saving money on greenscreen special effects. This is an enormous mistake in this film - if you are going to do this stunt for real, why the hell would you use so many shots that cover it up?
In the end the acting carries the film, and the actors do such a good job that this is still a fun watch. You will have a constant irritating tickle in your brain telling you that this is actually a TV show, and you may be on the verge of losing patience several times, but this movie is still enjoyable. I do not mean to be harsh, but there is a reason you are familiar with the names of these actors, but unfamiliar with the name of the director and writer. I would still recommend this, but you likely won't remember the film after watching it. A bit better than a 3/5, but not good enough to round up to 4/5.