Review: The Walk
The Walk encapsulates a larger-than-life true story about one man with a near-impossible dream, and the stunning journey undertaken to see it to fruition.
It tells the story of Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a high-wire artist who becomes inspired to walk between the World Trade Centre towers in New York City, before their completion in 1974. He begins to assemble a team of associates, to help him to sneak into the building without notice, in order to pull off this incredible feat – in the process showcasing Petit’s constant calculating over how to succeed without any major pitfalls.
It takes some time to warm up to the narrative, as it begins Petit’s story with overtly comical flashbacks to the point of near-ridicule. While his demeanor and expressive qualities are intriguing, it becomes too much, coupled with the constant narration and moments of addressing the audience. It makes the film appear very commercial and pandering to audience expectations, with Zemeckis utilizing storytelling tropes from his past work, including Cast Away and Forrest Gump. It is compelling once the coup of the World Trade Centre begins, which is fraught with suspense. The titular event is breathtaking, rendered with tense and beautiful emotion, and even knowing what will transpire will still leave many audiences on the edge of their seats.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as Petit takes some time to warm up to, but his accents and mannerisms reflect the man to the utmost degree. Its clear why he was chosen for the part, as very few other actors are capable of such grace and athletic prowess, to which Gordon-Levitt utilizes across the entire runtime. Filled out with a supporting cast that includes Ben Kingsley, Charlotte le Bon, and James Badge Dale among others, the ensemble features their own creative strengths that make for a very dynamic assemblage.
While packed to the brim with spectacle, The Walk is a decent outing for Zemeckis, and allows for some truly amazing visual work to take effect. James Marsh’s 2008 documentary Man on Wire, which covers the same exact events, is much more worth your time, in terms of accurately portraying Petit’s story. However if you are still looking to experience The Walk, seeing it in IMAX 3D provides the best display of its visual work.