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The Walk

The Walk

Released 2 October 2015
Director Robert Zemeckis
Starring

Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon
Writer(s)

Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne
Producer(s)

Jack Rapke, Tom Rothman, Steve Sarkey, Robert Zemeckis
Origin United States
Running Time 123 minutes
Genre Drama, adventure, biography
Rating PG
60

Walk on the mild side.

If you’ve already seen the excellent 2008 documentary Man On Wire, you may be wondering why Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk even exists. Man On Wire was a magnificently constructed heist movie, using interviews, reconstructions and images from the period, while Zemeckis’ take on the story  relies on Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a whole heap of CGI. Although this CGI provides some vertiginous thrills on an IMAX screen, Zemeckis’ attempt to put flesh on the bones of the story only really succeeds in lessening its impact.

The film follows the exploits of Philippe Petit (Gordon-Levitt), a street performer and high wire walker who becomes obsessed with the almost impossible task of walking between the two towers of the newly built World Trade Centre in 1974. We see Petit from a young age as he becomes fascinated by the high wire, learns at the feet of a master walker (Ben Kingsley) and eventually travels to New York, where he recruits a bunch of rag tag accomplices to plan this illegalfeat of madness.

The trump card of the film is undoubtedly the walk itself. The final section of the film is given over to this feat and any viewer with vertigo should definitely beware. The narrative leading up to this point though leaves a lot to be desired. The film is structured around a rather cheesy device - Gordon-Levitt as Petit delivering narration (in ripe French accent) from the top of a CGI Statue of Liberty. It looks, and feels, a little phoney and only served to remove me from the action. Gordon-Levitt’s performance as a whole is all lightness and no steel; he may be excellent at portraying the physicality of the showman but he’s not so hot at embodying the substance underneath.

Although The Walk goes into much more autobiographical detail than Man on Wire ever did, it is sorely lacking in the immediacy and tension that film had in abundance. Zemeckis has turned a thriller into a family friendly romp - it is definitely less satisfying on a dramatic level but it does succeed in turning the spectacle up to 11.

- Linda O’Brien