The Walk movie full length review - A Heart-Stopping Spectacular; A Fantasy-Like Tale of a Breathtaking Real-Life Adventure
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 4.8/5 stars
Rife with nerve-wracking tension, and keeps you on the edge of your seat (particularly during those high-wire walking scenes) ? "The Walk" attempts a tricky balancing act between thrilling visuals and fact-based drama, and like its wire-walking protagonist, pulls it off with impressive élan. It's a dream-like yet hyper-real film, simultaneously beautiful and terrifying, lovely and scary all at once. It takes the audience on a ride of emotions that ends on the wire, allowing us to feel and experiment vertigo, fear, angst, and at the same time inspires us with the true story of a man who had the confidence, craziness, drive, grit, and tenacity to never gave up on his dream. But, most importantly, "The Walk" succeeds in being a daring film about the passion and beauty of an amazing stunt remembered to this day. It's amazing to see what Robert Zemeckis, like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg can do to with special effects and CGI to tell a story, along with his incredible effects team, he makes you feel like you're walking on that wire. It's been so long since we've seen the Robert Zemeckis who was a consummate craftsman of pop entertainment, and it's heartening to see him come roaring back to form.
In 1968, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a struggling juggler, mime, magician, and tightrope walker decided to elevate his game, literally, by stringing his tightrope between the tops of the Twin Towers. The World Trade Center was yet to be erected, which gave the Parisian street performer half a dozen years to plan and practice for his death-defying feat. Finally, on the morning of August 7, 1974, he pulled off the eye-popping stunt with the help of a few friends sworn to secrecy. They'd agreed to help rig the high wire, despite breaking the law in the process. You see, Philippe hadn't bothered to ask the authorities for permission, figuring it'd never be approved. And for 40 minutes, he put on a heart-stopping show, during which he danced a jig, saluted the crowd below, and even lay down on the wire to take a brief respite. Written and directed by Oscar-winner Zemeckis, "The Walk" recounts the events surrounding Philippe's bold and historic stroll.
While "The Walk" uses the latest digital tricks and technology, it's also a satisfyingly old-fashioned picture. 1974 never looked so good, so happy, so innocent ? and isn't it nice to remember it that way? As if to counter the sad fact that most people, including an entire generation of millennials, automatically associate the New York's Twin Towers with their destruction during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Zemeckis takes us back to that innocent point in their infancy when their sky-skewering scale inspired a budding French tightrope walker to conquer them. Structured much like a heist movie ? as was the wonderful Oscar- winning 2008 documentary about the venture, "Man on Wire" ? Philippe Petit gathers his crew, including a crusty circus manager (Ben Kingsley), and heads to the Big Apple to plan and execute his death- defying stunt.
Whimsically told, the story has the feel of a modern fairytale, and it's clearly an affectionate tribute to the daredevil artist at its center. Having digitally rebuilt the city with astonishing historical accuracy, Zemeckis stages Petit's 40 minutes on the cable, 1,600 feet above the street, as one of the most lovely, terrifying, suspenseful, and joyous sequences in movie history. Some have complained that the 123-minute movie is a slow starter, but Levitt's feverish, dedicated, charming, passionate performance energizes the first half before the screenplay metamorphoses into full caper-mold in the second half. He puts forth such an easy charm crossed with a fierce determination that it's impossible not to fall in love with Philippe Petit as he attempts what sounds utterly suicidal. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has indubitably delivered one of the year's five best leading performances from a male actor, and deserves an Academy Award nomination no less for his inspirational portrayal of an awe-inspiring individual.
This is the kind of unbelievable true story that you couldn't make up if you tried, and it's ultimately what makes "The Walk" such an enjoyable, gripping experience. It's only when the giddiness passes that you realize you've witnessed not only an incredible true story but a fitting tribute to an unforgettable landmark. "The Walk" truly deserves to be experienced on the biggest screen possible in glorious 3D format, and it won't fail to impress and maybe even invigorate. It provides a film-going experience unlike anything I've seen this year. You feel every storey of those awesome erections, and that sense of awe only primes you for the eponymous climax ? a set piece that for once is not oversold. By the end of the film, you'll be engulfed with genuine admiration as well as respect for Levitt, Zemeckis, and most of all for Philippe Petit and his daring crew on that fateful day back in 1974.