Ever since he was a kid, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon Levitt) always dreamed of becoming famous as a tightrope walker. He started out doing smaller heights and eventually tried to get higher. His even bigger dream was to do a stunt that would leave him memorable. When Petit sees that New York City is building the Twin Towers, he realizes his destiny is to place his wire between the two towers and walk. Along the way, he meets several people who think he is crazy for wanting to perform such a stunt, but agree to help him regardless.
Based on the true story, Robert Zemeckis brings to life the amazing story of Petit and how he became famous for his walk. While the film begins with Petit’s early life, we only get a brief insight as to what life was like with his family, but it’s brief to the point of being non-existent. The rest of the film follows Petit and his various locations of him walking on his wire and meeting members of his future coupe. It’s not until the last half hour where we finally get Petit on the Twin Towers getting ready to perform his walk. While everything prior to this isn’t exactly boring, it does have its purpose, it’s just kind of lifeless in a way that the audience isn’t really going to care about how he got there. Instead we see Petit rambling on and on about almost the same things about what he wants to accomplish and getting irritated when things aren’t going his way or according to plan. To be honest, I really didn’t care for the character at all. Other than him having that “determination” and will power to accomplish his dreams, Petit as a character just doesn’t have any attributes that make you like him. What really keeps the film going is the amazing visuals that Zemeckis has always had a talent for. He perfectly captures the surroundings and the world of the characters and makes sure much of the scenery gets noticed. This goes especially for the breathtaking final thirty minutes where Zemeckis captures EVERYTHING while Petit is on the wire to really immerse the viewer in the setting and situation. I was genuinely glued to the screen the whole thirty minutes, and seeing it in 3D on a larger format screen made it all the more incredible. It almost made all of the exposition prior to this worth watching (keyword being almost). The film is based off of the documentary Man on Wire, and while I haven’t actually seen the film, I can assume that it would move along at a better pace, but with The Walk it gives you the point of view Petit had while up there, while the rest of the world was on the ground. Even if you can’t see the film in 3D/IMAX, the overall sequence is still amazingly filmed. It also does pay a beautiful tribute to the Twin Towers throughout the film and especially at the end.
While Petit as a character isn’t particularly likable, Joseph Gordon Levitt does a very fine job in the role (not really a surprise). Despite how the character was written, Levitt really got into the character’s emotions and showed his determination and bravery, but also his moments of fear and doubt while trying to keep his faith intact.
The Walk isn’t anything remarkable and it isn’t Robert Zemeckis’ finest work, but it is still a breathtaking film with amazing visuals and an interesting take on the story. And while the story itself for a majority of the time doesn’t really give you much, the final 30 minutes are fantastic, and Joseph Gordon Levitt provides a solid performance in a film that pays tribute to a real human being and the legacy of the famous towers.