Robert Zemeckis isn’t maybe a name you are too familiar with but I’m sure you’ll have seen some of his movies, as he is the man behind Back To The Future, Forrest Gump and Castaway. Some truly fantastic films there and it was his collaboration with one of my favourite actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL) that made The Walk one of my most anticipated films of the year even despite suffering for a bit of vertigo!
The Walk tells the truly amazing story of Philippe Petit as he attempts to achieve his dream of walking between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. The film starts with Petit (JGL) on top of the Statue of Liberty starting to tell his story. Unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of this technique for telling the story and throughout the film we return to the statue to see what more Petit has to say. In contrast to this though when Petit wasn’t on screen and it was simply his narration that accompanied the film I loved it. JGL was able to tell the story with such excitement and detail, I could have listened to him tell me the story with no visuals at all he was that captivating. The combination of the character of Philippe Petit and JGL’s performance made for fantastic viewing as this mans eccentric but charming personality transpired throughout the film perfectly resulting in much entertainment. I was also very impressed with JGL’s french accent which seemed to just roll off the tongue. That’s more than can be said for Ben Kingsley’s though, which I think was meant to be a mix between Czech and French but generally ended up sounding American! Apart from this though Kingsley was a good addition to the film.
Before watching the film I thought that my biggest frustration would come from the length of time it took Petit to arrive at the actual walk between the towers. I was right in that the film takes its time to get here but I was wrong in expecting to be frustrated as I loved the build up to the finale. The planning stages of the walk came across almost heist like as Petit took us through the details of how he managed to gain access to the towers and how he learnt all the various information. The score supported this section wonderfully through it’s jazzy vibes but this developed when it needed to for the finale transforming itself into something that would help create an epic and awe-inspiring atmosphere. I even enjoyed the context before this heist section where we learnt about the origin of Petit’s wire walking, my only complaint with this section was that I thought the lighting was really poor so for the majority of the first half of the film seemed very dark.
Whilst the strength of Zemeckis previous films for me always lays in the story each of those that I have mentioned features humour too and The Walk is no different. Littered throughout out the movie are chances to enjoy a laugh, this often flows very naturally from JGL through his performance of this crazy man! When the finale arrives you are already on edge for Petit, you want him to succeed. I can’t remember the last time I was so behind a character. The 3D really kicks in when he begins his walk and I thought this was a very effective tool for enhancing the experience. It’s never over used and the film never manipulates itself for it but instead it only adds quality to an already spectacular moment. The finale is longer than expected, this isn’t a complaint though just an observation – I’ll enjoy this part much more the second time round. However, it was still an amazing climax to the movie. These moments were full of suspense and tension as Petit has told us his story up to this point you desperately want him to succeed and so I couldn’t wait to see how the events unfolded. I truly loved The Walk, the strength lies once again for Zemeckis in this wonderful story. Watching a man, a mad and fantastic one at that, attempt to achieve his absolutely insane dream was very special. Just take a moment to really take in that this man actually attempted this crazy feat! How could anyone not be completely captivated by a film about this?
I realise I’ve gone on a little more than I usually do but this only shows you how much I loved this film. The Walk succeeds on every level much thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s brilliant central performance and storytelling. The Walk isn’t without problems as I’ve highlight but in the end these can’t even take away from the spectacle and splendor of such an amazing story. The Walk is without a doubt one of my favourite films of the year.
Rating – 8.5/10