A review of new film “The Walk”
Visually absorbing and thrilling, “The Walk” is often quite literally breathtaking. Immersive, “The Walk” employs sweeping shots of stunning heights and death-defying high-wire deeds to deliver a deliciously vivid sense of vertigo.
Telling the true story of high-wire walker Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a man driven to practice his craft on the heights of the World Trade Center, “The Walk” dances a fine line between visual effects and plot, a balancing act that has eluded similar films. Yet, “The Walk” manages this challenge, grounding high-air stunts and visual effects with a strong base of plot and character.
As Philippe gathers an eclectic crew, including his street musician girlfriend (Charlotte Le Bon), and a heights-fearing math teacher, to help him with his artistic coup, the film constructs empathetic characters while simultaneously structuring the plot to convey ever increasing suspense.
The events of the movie, from the team’s initial preparations to the stringing of the crucial cable, build organically towards the tension of Philippe’s climactic moments on the wire. “The Walk” is also remarkable in that it successfully reinvigorates the trite theme of a protagonist reaching for an impossible dream. Rather than appearing forced as many dream-driven films often have, “The Walk” is believable; Philippe’s passion and devotion to his craft render his aspirations wholly credible.
“The Walk” is notable for its lack of dependence on special effects, but it is also immensely successful in its use of visuals. Boasting an array of stunning shots, “The Walk” is captivating.
Though an exciting story, “The Walk” is also a love letter to a departed landmark, capturing the vanished grandeur of the Twin Trade Center with arresting special effects. The entire film is surreal in the beauty of its images; as Philippe strings his wire between the towers in the dead of night the cityscape beneath glows with an arresting golden splendor. Perhaps most stunning, however, is Philippe’s actual walk during which viewers feel as if they themselves are on the wire, standing at an unbelievable height over New York City.
Although “The Walk” is primarily a family-friendly film, parents should be aware that there is brief, strong profanity and a slightly extended, if obscured, scene of nudity. Not entirely without flaws, for example a slightly awkward first-person narration by Philippe throughout the film, “The Walk” is nevertheless a delight of story and image that can leave viewers walking on air.