Published on October 12th, 2015 | by Curtis Mayfield
The Walk (3D) – Film Review
Reviewed by Curtis Mayfield M-H on October 1st, 2015
Sony Pictures presents a film by Robert Zemeckis
Written by Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Browne, based on the book ‘To Reach the Clouds’ by Philippe Petit (novel)
Produced by Tom Rothman, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon & James Badge Dale
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski
Edited by Jeremiah O’Driscoll
Running Time: 123 minutes
Release Date: October 15th, 2015
Oh hell no critically acclaimed filmmaker Robert Zemeckis! I will not come out on that tiny wire that’s suspended from the top of the world’s tallest building. Even with your amazing 3D viewing that makes the experience intense and magical all at once, I won’t go along for this enchanting yet scary ride…well okay, maybe I’ll go on this journey just for a minute. Fast forward to two hours later when the movie The Walk is over and your stomach will be in knots but believe it or not that’s a good thing. Okay sure, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s French accent is hilarious at first but within five minutes of his portrayal as the real life high-wire performer Philippe Petit, it becomes more than convincing. In 1974 Petit gathered a team to help him pull off an impossible task: walk on a wire between the newly erected Twin Towers in New York City. Much like the mantra the climbers of Mt. Everest have, he simply did it because it was there. Gordon-Levitt takes on the playful character of Petit with equally charming movement and delivery. While the story unfolds of how Petit and his team planned the unimaginable, some magical realism is put in place with the Frenchman narrating his story from the torch of the Statue of Liberty. This isn’t the only time the movie gets playful with its cinematography. We’re shown the backstory to how Petit became obsessed with life risking stunts through lively montages of him practicing in a giant old-timey circus tent.
Ben Kingsley (who is in everything at the moment) plays mentor Papa Rudy, the man who taught Petit about showmanship and the respect one needs to have while walking across thin wires hundreds of metres in the air. But Petit did not pull off the amazing and illegal stunt by himself. This movie spans across a huge amount of time that goes beyond the actual stunt itself. Much like the story’s documentary counterpart Man on a Wire (2008), there is a rag tag team of people who helped make this happen. Among the European helpers was Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) who was Petit’s right hand assistant and girlfriend. After some test runs, which included walking between the towers of Notre Dame (and getting arrested), the team head to New York where the tone of the movie shifts. We leave behind the magical and over-romanticised Paris and land in the Big Apple where the movie begins to feel like an Improv Everywhere heist. This is where things start to become even more fun and enjoyable.
The crew adopts some locals into their plans with inside man Barry (Steve Valentine) and fast talking bi-lingual charmer Jean-Pierre (James Badge Dale). A fun montage begins, which quickly glides over the meticulous planning Philippe Petit put into this highly illegal plan. After weeks of surveying every aspect of the buildings and its workings, the group hatch the idea to dress up as workman and leave their equipment inside the building and hide in it overnight to pull off the brazen act early the next morning. This was done so the next morning a large crowd of commuters would see. An Ocean’s 11 vibe takes over from here, although not everything goes to plan. Enough said. Let the suspense begin before the high wire is even put up. Director Robert Zemeckis doesn’t gloss over Petit’s tyrannical ways as the magic disappears in the planning leading up to the stunt. He becomes obsessive and insists on attempting the act on one particular day and refuses to budge. His loyal crew unfortunately feels the squeeze of their leader’s scrupulous ways though everybody blindly follows Petit.
The greatest aspect of this film is that it was actually made to be watched in 3D. While most movies just slap on the three-dimensional feature to pry a few more dollars out of our pockets The Walk is best seen while wearing goofy glasses. The great heights literally jump out at you and will probably make your stomach turn once or twice. But the unavoidable elephant in the room is of course the events of 9/11. The whole time these crazy lovable people are spying and making plans on breaking into the World Trade Center, there’s a necessary feeling of unease. By the film’s end, a nice homage to the gigantic towers is made and things don’t become overly patriotic. The overall build up to Petit walking on the wire is incredible and it makes the two plus hours fly. For those who have seen the documentary about this event you’ll notice that some of the raw real life facts are missed in this feature film and replaced with magical reimaginings like Petit’s *cough* infidelity *cough*. But to focus on the more credible elements of the movie it should be pointed out that the real life Philippe Petit worked closely with Gordon-Levitt to train him in wire walking. Every aspect of this story comes together nicely to create a visually stimulating narrative. The main character of Petit is likeable but not without his flaws, which stays true to the real life version. If you get the chance, watch this in 3D as the extra charge definitely pays off. If not, then it’s still worth seeing it for the interesting piece of history and solid acting.
Summary: If you get the chance, watch this in 3D as the extra charge definitely pays off. If not, then it’s still worth seeing it for the interesting piece of history and solid acting.