The Walk’s final act is an achievement – the pure, titular act of walking through the air between the twin towers is crystallised by director Robert Zemeckis’ vision in perfect terror and wonder. Some structural problems and annoying supporting characters keep this from being a classic in the same vein as Zemeckis’ previous works, but it’s still an inspiring and exciting tale of a single man’s obsession.
A true story, The Walk (2015) follows Joseph Gordon Levitt as Phillipe Petite, a man who many would perceive as mad. He’s a Frenchman, a natural born tightrope walker, and is obsessed with achieving his dream of walking between the twin towers in 1970s New York. Tutored by Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) and supported by girlfriend Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), Petit puts together a crew of international members to break into the twin towers and walk on a single wire in the void between them.
The plot is impressive, simply for the fact that it stays so close to real events but mainly still remains engaging. The first act unfortunately does drag in parts, and could have benefitted from being streamlined or cut down. But once it gets to the heist-like second act, the pace picks up considerably, and begins to build to the greatest part of the film – the final act. The titular walk is captured by Zemeckis perfectly, being equal parts wonder, tension and excitement. Certainly not a sequence for anyone afraid of heights, the cinematography does an excellent job reinforcing the height and danger of the situation, and the audience can’t help but sit and watch in awe at this mad Frenchman attempting his dream.
Joseph Gordon Levitt is charming and easy to watch as semi-crazed Frenchman Phillipe. He does a great job of capturing the passion and manic energy of the real-life individual, and really makes you believe this man is confident – or crazy – enough to actually attempt his ridiculous dream. The rest of the supporting cast is capable as well. Ben Kingsley is always reliable and does a fine job of being gruff but caring as Petit’s mentor, although he he is underutilised. Charlotte Le Bon is also passable as his girlfriend, but nothing ground-breaking. Their relationship is almost ancillary to the plot, and smartly Zemeckis doesn’t give too much attention on it.
The heist crew, unfortunately, is where the film fumbles. Many of the characters are only glanced over, never allowing them to make much of an impression. Two of the crew in particular, although they don’t get much screen time, are designed to be a form of comic relief but they are so one-note and painfully unfunny they just drag down the energy and awe of the movie.
So while The Walk does hesitate frequently, its still achieves its goal of showcasing the awe and insanity of this real world event. If you find the premise interesting, make the walk. Unless you’re afraid of heights.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended