Basing a movie on a singular event is risky to try when attempting to actually entertain an audience. There’s usually too much talking and time-wasting before we finally get to the only thing that we are really even watching for. That was my primary reason of concern before I saw The Walk since it looked to have all the trappings one would anticipate in a boring movie with the hopes of gaining critical acclaim just as award season is starting up. Luckily, it turned out to have more to offer than the usual.
Primarily focused on an important span of time in the life of Phillipe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), The Walk takes us back to when the young line walker was looking for inspiration and motivation. You would figure that walking lines at risky heights would be thrilling enough, but the Frenchman wants more, and finds it in the Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. With his heart set on walking from one tower to the other, Petit puts together an eclectic team of personalities and travels across the ocean to do so.
While I did expect this to be just another one of those talkative flicks with a clichéd love story and bland characters, I was happy to see that the people behind The Walk realized that making the movie enjoyable was key. From the outset, you’ll realize that the soul of the film is a joyful one that wants to put on a show. This helps in keeping you engaged even when not a whole lot is going on.
What I mean is that the premise is fairly simple and straight forward. You know his goal and we watch him move toward it. While that’s happening, we’re getting a chance to learn a little bit about him and the characters that surround him. This allows us to do something while the film is probably wasting our time more than we realize. Although, this speaks on the thin material, you can also say that it shows us that Robert’s Zemeckis’ directing skills are no joke.
Making something that could have been serious into something with the ability to amuse aids in the film’s successes. Trying to make something more serious in tone could have done damage to the film since it would have most likely made the lack of activity much more obvious. This could have also made the movie feel as if it was taking itself way too seriously. After all, it’s about a guy walking a tightrope. He’s not saving the world or making a difference in anyone’s life.
Anyway, if you don’t know the story behind this, there’s a chance that this could create a legitimate amount of suspense since they are able to build up some of the later scenes as you wonder what’s going to happen next. Obviously, suspense is needed for just about every kind of movie, and the fact that they are able to do it here is both surprising and welcome.
One of the coolest things about The Walk is that they make New York itself feel like an event again. Growing up, New York City had this lore about it in film that has long since faded away. Nowadays, New York usually looks and feels like a nondescript piece of land that’s never distinguishes itself. Here however, it’s made to feel how I remember it. They make it seem vast, wonderful and a place where dreamers may want to be.
With all of the positives that The Walk has to offer, I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that more depth would have made it better overall. All of what’s positive makes this something worth seeing, but I don’t know if it would hold up well in a second viewing. Watching again would probably allow you to see the emptiness that is being hidden by the entertaining characters and the thrills that we get once Phillipe and his allies arrive in New York.
Outside of that and the glaring use of CGI, The Walk delivers in most ways. While I don’t see myself watching this multiple times, The Walk ultimately left me satisfied with what was offered up. For that along with the other reasons that were pointed out, this is something that you probably won’t regret checking out if you take the time to see it.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Charlotte Le Bon
James Badge Dale
Film Length: 123 minutes
Release Date: September 30, 2015
Distributor: Tristar Pictures