Some people I know aren’t very excited about The Walk. It’s nothing to do with the director, Robert Zemeckis, who’s brought us at least one classic film a decade for thirty years, and it’s nothing to do with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an actor who has a lot of fans, even if his box office track record doesn’t show it. The reason some people aren’t excited about this film is that the documentary Man on Wire, made about this very subject matter, only came out few years ago, and it was a pretty comprehensive look at what happened, and it also has the people who took part in the events giving interviews. This has led a lot of people to say that this film is somewhat unnecessary, but can a dramatisation of the events possibly compete with first hand accounts?
The Walk is the true story of Philippe Petit, a French street performer who travels to America in an attempt to live his dream of walking on a high-wire between the twin towers of the world trade center. Along the way he recruits a number of people to help him make this dream become a reality, as he tries to commit ‘the artistic crime of the century’.
I’ll address the big question first: no, The Walk isn’t as good as Man on Wire, but that’s largely due to the quality of the documentary, and not anything that this film did wrong. In fact, there’s very little The Walk did do wrong. I already knew the story very well, and even so at around two hours the film was never boring. There were a lot of jokes and funny moments found in the situation, but when the drama was needed it was handled well. The only criticism I really have for this film is that it had a very strong 90’s vibe. Actually, calling that a criticism might be unfair, but I did find myself thinking ‘that was so 90’s’ on more than one occasion. It also did miss out a few details that were included in the documentary, but I can’t hold that against it too much.
The next big question most people will have is whether or not the actual walk itself is any good, and it is without any doubt the best part of this film. It’s very tense, and every shot showed a new perspective, and made it feel more dangerous than before. This section felt like a good quarter of the film’s run time, so it definitely satisfies any itch for high-wire shenanigans that you might have. Also, I would recommend viewing this in 3D, as even though I’m not a fan of the format, I thought it made very good use of it as a film making tool.
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