It is 1974, New York City. The construction of the Twin Towers is almost complete. It will be the world’s tallest construction, stretching almost 200 metres above the Eiffel Tower. For the young, aspiring tightrope walker, Phillipe Pettit, this information produces a thirst that can only be quenched when he has walked his rope on the world’s tallest construction.
Being an illegal operation, it is highly risky. Not to mention that he will be walking on a wire almost 500 metres above the ground. Can Phillipe and his accomplices pull it off? This film is the second film detailing the true story of the daredevil Frenchman, Phillipe Pettit, the first being an Oscar winning documentary, Man on Wire. Having watched the documentary, I can say that it is one of the best I have seen. Therefore, the real question is whether or not The Walk has also succeeded in making this amazing story come to life once again.
The Walk begins on the Statue of Liberty. Phillipe Pettit is standing on the statue’s torch as he introduces us to his story. It is like hearing an old fable as Phillipe, performed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, takes us back to where it all began.
Gordon-Levitt’s boyish face and beady eyes, at first, do not seem to match up with his confident, stage-like performance, making the opening scene look more like somebody’s audition clip to me. I can not help but see the lovesick boy from 500 Days of Summer and I imagine that is why he was considered for this role; he fits well into the fantastical imagery that was a also a big feature in 500 Days of Summer. But as the film continues, Gordon-Levitt’s skilled commitment to play Phillipe Pettit turns my reluctance into admiration as his delivery brings an almost unfiltered translation of Pettit’s charm and poetic sense of humour onto the big screen.
The supporting actors also master their roles, giving convincing performances as Pettit’s accomplices. Although the accomplices played supportive roles, we get a distinct depiction of each character’s qualities. Since this is based on a true story, I am pleased that director and co-writer Robert Zemeckis did not make the roles of these individuals fade into the background. However, I suppose it would be impossible to not have these characters featured in this way because each individual’s input was a building block to the operation’s success.
The artistic direction is a blend of realism and fantasy. A recollection of memories is projected onto the screen through a mode of storytelling that seems like parts of it have been borrowed from a dream. Phillipe’s words are able to come to life as the story transforms into a poetic language that our eyes can now capture.
Without needing any action scenes, the 3D effects depict various motions in some of the most engaging ways. However, it does make certain movements lag ever so slightly.
The makers of The Walk have made sure to provide a capturing film that even through the script, the sense of anxiety is heightened in a powerful way. Although this is a famous event in history and Phillipe’s ultimate fate on the wire is already known, you are still taken on the bittersweet journey of astonishment, helplessness and deep concern for the each character and their role in the story.
The Walk, as a mainstream movie, is one that has been brilliantly pieced together. From start to finish, I can barely find anything that can render this film incomplete. And not only has Zemeckis succeeded in retelling an already remarkable story; he has managed to tell it in a way that truly compliments the thrill of this monumental event.