Movie Review: The Walk
Philippe Petit‘s wire walk across the Twin Towers in August of 1974 has been well-documented over the years. It’s not exactly an untold story; there was even a popular documentary a few years back about it that actually won an Oscar. Thus, I can’t say a mainstream rendition of the true story was entirely necessary. However, Robert Zemeckis‘ eye-popping The Walk is, for the most part, an entertaining movie, even if it is a little more lightweight than I was hoping.
I’m not going to waste my time reciting the plot of this movie, because it’s well-known at this point. I will just spend my time here talking about the film itself. Zemeckis’ latest feels more like a biopic of Philippe Petit rather than an account of his famous wire walk. It’s a 2 hour movie that spends much of its time exploring Petit’s early years when he was first inspired to be a wire walker. This portion of the movie is all competently done; however, I couldn’t help but feel like the film was on autopilot. There was nothing particularly special about the first half of The Walk.
Once Petit and his “accomplices” are in New York and planning out the whole scheme, the movie got a lot more interesting for me. It turned from generic biographical film to breezy heist flick on a dime. While this tonal shift was certainly jarring, I’m glad it wasn’t so conventional all the way through. The latter portion of the film I found enjoyable, especially the wire walk sequence itself which was breathtaking in every sense of the word.
And, ultimately, it’s what this movie will and should be remembered for. Much of everything else feels like filler for the climactic scene in between the Twin Towers. Zemeckis displays extraordinary filmmaking in that sequence – which goes on for quite a while and remains relentlessly tense – which he had been lacking for the better part of two acts. I can’t say I disliked any part of The Walk. I just simply wasn’t enthralled by it until its nail-biting conclusion.
The cast does a good job, particularly Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who just barely pulls off the French accent without it sounding overly irritating. No one gives an Oscar-worthy performance, but no one is actually bad either. It’s all competent. That’s a good word to describe this film as a whole. Competent. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, even if its script is a little overwritten and it doesn’t pack much of a substantial punch. But, if you’re seeking visual and visceral thrills on a grand stage, then this is worth checking out in IMAX 3D.