Movie Review – ‘The Walk’

“The biggest stars in “The Walk” are the 1,350-foot tall siblings standing 140-feet from each other along downtown Manhattan.”      

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF


After a slow and often unsteady beginning, “The Walk” gains momentum in its final performance staged between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.  This true balancing act follows the famous French high-wire artist Phillipe Petit, as the former street performer attempts to fulfill his life-long dream above Wall Street.

Based upon Petit’s own book “To Reach the Clouds” and James Marsh’s 2008 documentary “Man on Wire”, this film quickly chronicles a young Frenchman’s passion for wire walking and the rocky relationship he had with his sole mentor growing up–Papa Rudy (played by Oscar winner Ben Kingsley).

Although Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a convincing job as Petit, the biggest stars in “The Walk” are the 1,350-foot tall siblings standing 140-feet from each other along downtown Manhattan.  These Twin Towers, forever etched in the memory of post-9/11 Americans, stand proudly on display throughout this film as the final accomplice to join Petit’s coup.

Academy Award winning director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”) magnificently captures the allure and dangers associated with Petit’s high-wire attempt to bridge the two massive buildings.  The intense and realistic computer-generated imagery (CGI) will push viewers further into the safety of their theater seats as “The Walk” attempts to clear the cinematography bar set by the weightless “Gravity” in 2013.

Despite impressive visuals and a thoroughly suspenseful final twenty minutes, “The Walk” wobbles in its first few steps of the film.  An awkward narration by Joseph Gordon-Levitt throughout seems misplaced and takes out all of the guesswork as to Petit’s final fate. It tries to be part documentary, part drama, never quite having success with either realm.


Likewise, between the French accents and English subtitles, this movie loses its footing and falls by refusing any attempt at character development or a thickened plot outside of the square blocks surrounding the World Trade Center.  The result is that Gordon-Levitt, who can’t escape the looming shadow of the 110-story elephants in the room, gets outperformed by the two skyscrapers.

“The Walk” delivers a watchable historic event, steadying itself atop an American icon that represents courage, strength and determination still today.  Standard or 3D theater projection captures the essence of a young man answering his call in life to the amazement of watchers below and audience members.  With no safety net, “The Walk” wobbles at times like a tired boxer in the ring.  However, despite its carrots being cooked way too early in the film, it still satisfies with a rousing end.

Grade: B-

“The Walk” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements involving perilous situations, some nudity, language and drug references and smoking.  Its running time is 2 hours and 3 minutes.

© 2015, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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