The Walk, Robert Zemeckis’ latest film, takes viewers a quarter mile above New York City with Philippe Petit (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he walks between the nearly-complete towers of the World Trade Center on a steel cable in the early morning of Aug. 7, 1974.
The build up in the movie left a lot to be desired. Petit goes from ametaur to master wire walker in mere scenes and there’s not much in the way of character development. For a biopic we don’t get much of a view into Petit’s psyche.
The movie really hits its stride once Petit and company arrive in New York. It transforms into a quasi-caper style movie as Petit and his accomplices plan out the daring wire walk referred to in the movie as “the coup.”
The last 40 minutes is when The Walk really shines. The movie recovers from its early stumbling stages and thrusts the viewer out onto the wire with Petit, 110 stories above New York City.
While the outcome to The Walk is never in doubt, viewers will feel knots in their stomach as Petit steps out onto “the void,” as Petit puts it.
Viewers will find themselves gripping the armrests on their seats tightly as Petit begins his 140 foot journey between the towers.
The cinematography in The Walk is absolutely gorgeous. Director of Photography Dariusz Wolski (The Martian, Pirates of the Caribbean), makes the movie come to life and puts the audience directly into the wire walking experience. Wolski will surely find himself nominated for best cinematography after his strong showing.
The Walk is one of the few movies that I would recommend someone see in 3D. You will not get the same immersion and experience watching this film in a standard theater or in your home.
In many ways the colossal towers become a central character, every bit as important as Philippe. The towers glissen in the background as the movie opens to Petit standing on the Statue of Liberty’s torch.
Zemeckis resurrects the towers at their conception and imbues them with a sense of life, giving them a “soul,” when Petit begins his performance.
The ending of the film, which is never in doubt for any viewer, is tastefully handled by Zemeckis.
The Walk is just as much a tribute the the towers as it is for Philippe Petit. The slow opening and lack of character development make for a lackluster start, but once the film leaves the ground, it doesn’t look back.
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