The Walk: Film Review

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All the buzz around The Walk seems to be about the visual spectacle element and sure, it does look amazing, immersive and you do feel like you are on the wire with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But once you strip all these style pointers away, the film is missing something, and I’m not totally sure what that is.

Gordon-Levitt stars as Philippe Petit, a French street performer who dreams of taking on a big high-wire challenge. He sets his sights on the World Trade Center towers in New York before they were fully finished in 1974. We watch him practicing his tricks in a small French village as a youngster, meeting his girlfriend Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) in Paris, learning how to rig a high-wire from circus boss Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) and relocating to New York so he can scope out the towers and recruit accomplices, including my personal favourite Jeff (Cesar Domboy).

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I knew nothing about Petit’s stunt, nor had I watched the documentary Man on Wire, so I had literally no idea if he was going to make it in one piece. The actual walk scenes are incredibly tense and you really do feel like you are there, looking off the tower to the ground below. I didn’t realise he walked back and forth a number of times, so I was disappointed when his first go went so successfully. But it gets way more intense, and it looks amazing. The recreation of the towers is impressive and the cityscape looks incredible. However, there are some shots were it doesn’t look realistic and it is so obvious JGL isn’t actually there. It didn’t distract me too much though as I was hiding behind my scarf bracing for a fall.

You would expect the film to be quite serious, but it is actually very light and humorous in tone. JGL narrates in a very excited, upbeat style and the whole thing whips along at a pace. We never linger too much on the different early stages of his life, and we never really get to know him as a person – it is just about his circus tricks and pursuit of the wire. It is certainly fun to watch but who is Petit?

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That being said, I loved the early high-wire scenes and you could tell JGL did a lot of those himself. They are a lot of fun and he brings a lot of sweetness and charm to the character. His French accent is impressive and he finally gets to show off his fluent French! It feels weird to begin with but he soon had me convinced.

I would have liked more of a tribute to 9/11 at the end, and I really didn’t like his piece-to-camera sections, which are given standing on the Statue of Liberty with the Twin Towers in the background. It looked odd, you could tell he wasn’t there and this form of narration simply takes me out of the story. Also I came away from the film feeling disappointed that I was not moved or inspired more – which is very picky, but c’mon, this is Robert Zemeckis!

So it is not perfect, but it is still very entertaining, enjoyable and tense as we reach the climax. I don’t know how much IMAX 3D will differ from traditional 2D, but I’m sure this movie as a whole isn’t worth paying the extortionate entry price for the spectacle alone.

In selected IMAX cinemas now, nationwide from 9th October 

Comments

  1. Imperfect as it may be, I’m looking forward to it. Although this weekend I’m all about The Martian!

    • Hannah Wales says:

      Thanks for the comment. It’s definitely still worth a watch for sure, but I loved The Martian so absolutely see that first!

Trackbacks

  1. […] beginnings to his terrifying stunt, which is visually stunning and incredibly tense. Read my review here. Released in IMAX on 2nd, nationwide on 9th […]

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