The Walk Movie Review
There's crazy, and then there's Philippe Petit. He's that guy who you may or may not have seen in the excellent documentary Man on Wire, about a daring high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Castaway, Flight) got his hands on the story and decided to make a big-budget movie of it.
Like the real-life event, the movie walks a fine line between greatness and stupidity.
The Walk excels at times and fails in others, and sometimes does both at the same time. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in some ways great in the lead role; he immerses himself as the eccentric Frenchman as best he can... and yet it's hard to shed the thought that the talented actor is woefully miscast. Is it a great performance or a terrible one? I'm not sure.
The first half of the movie is mildly entertaining, even though it simply serves as setup for the third act and Zemeckis does his best to make things miserable for the audience. The director, who took years off from making real movies to create stop-motion capture experiments no one wanted to watch (Beowulf, anyone?), goes overboard with fanciful filmmaking tricks, most notably an awful decision to have Gordon-Levitt narrate the film on screen. While standing on top of the Statue of Liberty. The constant narration is lazy at best, and downright excruciating at worst.
Zemeckis makes up for the film's weak first half with an extremely tense climax, in which Petit and his crew break into the Twin Towers like spies and performs his highly recognized feat. Even though you know that he (spoiler) survives, the action is thrilling, even sweat-inducing. My fiancé, who is afraid of heights, couldn't even watch some of the scenes.
But is the climax exciting because of Zemeckis, or in spite of him? Would any capable film about a guy walking on a wire 110 stories above the ground cause you to hold your breath? I'm not sure. Maybe it doesn't matter.
In the end, The Walk is a serviceably entertaining film that offers an incredibly tense third act, one that nearly makes up for the shortfalls of the rest of the material. But is it a movie I want to watch again? No. Is it a movie that will work as good on the small screen? No. Is it as entertaining or as fun as the documentary? No.
For all these reasons, best to spend your money elsewhere.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.