Walking on air. So back in 1974, an obsessive Frenchman named Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), came to America with a dream. That dream was to hang a wire between the World Trade Center towers and walk between them. This is the story of all the careful planning that went into staging this coup, and the execution that followed. This is based on a true story, and if you weren’t already aware, there is a terrific academy award winning documentary that got released eight years ago called Man on Wire that features the real life players in this caper. While The Walk is never quite as good as Man on Wire, it does its subject matter justice, and always manages to entertain.
Both are very worthy of your time.
I know this significantly underperformed at the box office, and I was a part of that; while I was interested when I heard about, it was already out of theaters before I even had an opportunity to see it, so I was forced to wait until the home market. I didn’t get to experience this in IMAX 3-D like how all of the previews demanded it be seen, and there are a few gratuitous 3-D shots sprinkled throughout that don’t translate all that well to 2-D. It’s kind of a hard sell, and I don’t think the bland title helped to get butts in seats. It’s neither here nor there, I suppose, because if you take the time to watch this, you’re going to witness some dizzying spectacle.
The dream of a madman.
You can tell that Joseph Gordon-Levitt put in a lot of work into this performance, and he never breaks character, keeping his accent consistent. There are a number of scenes where he breaks the fourth wall, which I imagine was to stay close in tone to the documentary. Part of what made Man on Wire so great was because it played like a heist film; nobody was expecting anybody to try anything of this nature, so the proper security was somewhat lacking. That is present here as well, and The Walk captures the excitement that came in the planning and staging of it all. What makes this truly worthwhile is the finale, because the special effects that aren’t played for a 3-D audience reaction are flawless; it is incredible to see how they recreate 1970’s New York City from such a great height, and it is always showing you the scope of this insane circus act. I would much rather see director Robert Zemeckis do period pieces like this than those creepy motion capture movies he has spent so much of his career directing. I don’t know if you absolutely need to see this is you’ve seen Man on Wire, as it is covering the same exact story, but if you haven’t seen the aforementioned and wanted to witness some groundbreaking special effects, The Walk would be your ticket.
The Walk (2015) ****
– Critic for Hire