The Walk (REVIEW)

written by William Ray (@thewilliamray)

There are times I hate not having internet in the house; this being one of them. It's been a number of years since I've written a movie review and here I am, writing it using my smartphone. The next time you see me and notice my thumbs being three times the size of my other fingers, you'll know why.

Anyways, The Walk was a movie I had been waiting to see ever since I first saw the trailer. When I was a boy, I remember learning about this story in a book about skyscrapers. In it there was a story about the original World Trade Center twin towers and in the corner there was a picture of a man walking between the towers on a wire. As much as I appreciated what was happening in the picture, it wasn't until seeing the trailer just how big the scale was of this event. I took the time to learn as much as I could before watching the movie. I read Wikipedia entries, I read articles about the moment, I even watched the documentary Man On Wire where the walker, Philippe Petit, tells his entire story (highly recommend this doc). I had finished the doc wanting to accomplish some dreams myself because of the way he told it. Here's the thing: I am massively afraid of heights. Watching movies in 3D also makes me a little sick. So I was getting excited for a movie that will cause me to have vertigo and nausea at the same time. Wonderful. Not to mention I read an article the day before watching that said moviegoers ended up throwing up from the nausea they suffered. But I thought I should experience the same thing that Philippe experienced, so I ponyed up 15 bucks, went to the 5 story tall IMAX screen at Pacific Science Center in Seattle, took anti nausea medicine and armed with a couple of vomit bags; confidently walked into the theater...

The best thing they did right was not mentioning 9/11 or what happened to the site since

Presentation...

Director Robert Zemeckis is one of my most favorite directors of all time. He directed such classics as Back to the Future and Forrest Gump. One thing he does incredibly well is work with CGI; and it absolutely shows in The Walk. It's astonishing how he and the artists behind the CGI really made you believe that the towers were right there in front of you. There are movies that look awesome that are recommend to be seen in IMAX, but this is a movie that demands to be seen on the largest screen you can find and in 3D because you really feel the height of the towers and just how small you are walking with Philippe as he crosses the narrow span of the wire. I have to add the music choices are great. Alan Silvestri and Zemeckis go together like peas and carrots (bonus points to whomever understood the reference). During the wire walking scene, the thing that makes me love the soundtrack is actually just these small little notes that played on occasion whenever Philippe did some little movie on the wire. I will admit the only nitpick I had about the movie is that it didn't use the IMAX screen to its full potential. In some movies that are on IMAX, sometimes they'll use the entire screen to demonstrate the scale of a scene, like in Transformers 2 when the Constructicons combine to form Devastator or in Pacific Rim during the kaiju fights. Not once did I see or notice the screen expand, which was a little disappointing considering some shots could've really benefited from it.

Plot...

This is the true story of Philippe Petit and his journey to accomplish his dream of walking between the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York. On the way he learns techniques in wire walking as well as constructing wires between different spans. He also gains numerous accomplices in France and the US to help complete his "coup". It is also explained how they managed to get in the towers in the first place and what it was like to actually perform what seemed to be like a heist. It's based on a true story and from what I hear the real Philippe Petit was there to tell his story and make sure the story was told properly. This is where watching Man On Wire in advance helps. Because of this, I had already learned all of what had happened before, during, and after the coup. The accuracy to the real story is incredible. A couple of inaccuracies here and there (the freight elevator took them to the 104th floor, not the 110th) but it didn't exactly take away from the movie. The best thing they did right was not mentioning 9/11 or what happened to the site since then. It is as if they were trying to just keep this about something good that came out of having the twin towers rather than focus on the bad. And that's a beautiful thing. Philippe says in this movie that death is a word he never wants to hear and instead he only wants to hear about life. And that's what this movie is: a celebration of life.

Portrayals...

This is the only part that I would consider ao failure on the movie's part. I'm definitely not knocking on Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit. With the image and voice of the real Philippe fresh in my head, JGL did an almost spot on impression of him. The voice, the mannerisms, and the personality all were played to a T. I'm also not knocking on Charlotte Le Bon as Annie, who was Philippe's love interest/inspiration to do the coup. She did a serviceable job in her role. I just believe everyone else could've been casted better. These people were real people and contributed major things to the coup. The least we could do is make these supporting roles almost as unforgettable as the the main role by casting them differently. I was specifically disappointed in Ben Kingsley's role. There has been this shadow hanging over Kingsley, I believe, that prevents him from doing roles where he isn't a crotchety old dude or a supervillain. He was supposed to play Philippe's mentor but it just didn't feel good seeing him perform. Also, the guy playing Jean-Louis could've been portrayed better. I just didn't feel good chemistry between Philippe and the guy who played Jean-Louis which is sad considering they were best friends in real life.

So overall, this was not a movie. The Walk was an experience and yes, it demands to be seen on an IMAX screen. Amazing CGI, a beautiful story that actually happened, and one of JGL's best performances.