Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Written by Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Browne
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, and James Badge Dale
The Walk, like the 2008 documentary Man on Wire tells the story of Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The documentary having been released seven years prior, have led many to wonder why produce a film that tells the same story? That is because Petit’s story deserves to a dramatization. There is much contained in Man on Wire that would make a compelling narrative film. However, because the documentary had come out so recently, the movie could have been made further removed from the documentary. Even though The Walk is a dramatization of the events depicted in Man on Wire it highlights all the events that Petit talks about in the documentary. If something in The Walk feels like it might be a dramatic license, the crazy thing is, it is not, it happened.
The Walk is shot in such a way that you feel like you are on the wire with Petit. Zemeckis uses aerial shots, overhead shots, and a photo-realistic CGI rendering of the towers to achieve this illusion. When Gordon-Levitt as Petit starts to cross the wire, and the camera pans up overhead, you feel like you are looking down the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. You even get that feeling of your stomach rising into your throat that you get when looking over a high ledge. The portion of the movie that focuses on Petit’s walk between the towers is the best filmmaking of the year.
The one thing that stuck with me about Man on Wire, which carries over into The Walk, is how much it feels like a heist movie. This story contains all the necessary parts of a heist film, a plan that requires expert coordination and execution, accomplices, and is seemingly impossible to pull off. The Walk feels like a heist movie, sans the heist. The heist film tone of the movie is set not only by the story but by Alan Silvestri’s score. The score that Silvestri composed for this film sounds like it had come out of a heist movie. Silvestri’s score serves as an excellent example of how a score can highlight the tone of a film and how the film can help the score.
The only thing about the movie that raises my curiosity is whether Zemeckis placed a title card at the end of the film explaining what happened on 9/11 for the international release? The film ends in a way that will certainly resonate with an American audience; it was beautiful how Zemeckis finished the film like that, I had tears in my eyes. The power of the end of the movie might be lost on an international audience that might not be aware of what happened on 9/11. Outside of it being an international news item fourteen years ago, I do not think that 9/11 resonates internationally the way it does in here in America. So, if anyone reading has seen The Walk outside of the USA feel free to chime in on that.
The Walk put up on the wire with Philippe Petit, although you do feel like you have already seen the movie because of how recent the documentary on the same event was released. A note of warning if you are subject to vertigo stay clear of this film because it might trigger your vertigo. The Walk receives 3.5/5.