The Walk review

Robert Zemeckis
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Ben Kingsley
Charlotte Le Bon
Cesar Domboy
James Badge Dale
Rated: PG

“The Walk” follows the true story of French high wire artist Philippe Petit (Gordon-Levitt) who attempted a crossing between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the 1970s. The film begins with Petit’s childhood and explores how he discovered his passion for wire walking, when he realized his dream of walking across the iconic New York City buildings and what he needed to do in order to make it all happen.

Along the way, the movie introduces accomplices to Petit who assist in sneaking their way through the then under construction towers and setting up the high rise wires.

Director Robert Zemeckis’ latest feature could have really been a film for the ages had he dialed back the narration element. The set up for the daring walk across the towers is all filmed well, however, during every stage of the movie there are cutaways to Gordon-Levitt as Petit standing with the New York skyline behind him explaining everything that is going on.

It’s a basic scenario of show, don’t tell. It wouldn’t have been as much of an issue if the narration had come in only a few times to bridge the gap between time skips, similar to how the recent “Black Mass” film did it. The problem here, though, is that the narration is constant, it tells the viewer the most basic things that are going on in the film and offers little nuance.

Because of the narration, as well as the pacing and dialogue, “The Walk” feels very spoon-fed in a way, as if the film is holding the audiences hand through most of the picture. On top of that, the movie at times has difficulty in balancing its tone. In a few scenes, the tone is a bit too comedic when it should feel more dramatic.

With all that said, the movie is hugely benefited by the suspense that is built by the heist feel which is brought forth with the plan to hang the high wire and the edge of your seat tension when the actual walk starts.

Zemeckis and the film crew should be given enormous credit for creating the scenes which look very real. Every step Petit takes on the wire is a moment of intensity as the film takes in the surroundings such as the ground below, the two towers on either side and the rest of the New York City skyline.

Speaking of the skyline, the whole movie is also a giant love letter to the twin towers and the picture handles their story with the highest of class. It was marvelous to see the buildings as part of New York City again and it was moving to see them appreciated so much by the characters in the film.

As for the acting, it’s a bit conflicting. Gordon-Levitt without a doubt was able to showcase Petit’s dedication to his craft, the ambition to fulfill his dream and the focus when the wire walk was taking place. At the same time, his French accent wasn’t exactly on point and in some moments it came off as artificial.

The supporting cast was OK, but none of them were particularly memorable. Ben Kingsley, who played Petit’s mentor had some solid moments and was likely the high point when it came to actors besides Levitt.

There are some flaws that are somewhat glaring in “The Walk.” It’s pacing was a bit rushed, the narration wasn’t necessary and the acting wasn’t exactly award caliber. However, it has undeniable strengths in the heist portions and especially the moments of the walk which were breathtaking. 3 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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