Film Review: The Walk (dir by Robert Zemeckis)


The_Walk_(2015_film)_poster

If you didn’t get a chance to see Robert Zemeckis’s latest film, The Walk, in a theater and, at the very least, in 3D, you really missed out.

In fact, I’m actually a bit surprised that The Walk hasn’t gotten more attention than it has.  Over the past year, whenever I would see the trailer play before another movie, it always seemed like a palpable sense of excitement descended over the theater.  Then, The Walk was released, it got wonderful reviews, and …. nothing.  Down here in Dallas, it played in theaters for three weeks and then it went away.  Since I was on vacation for two of those weeks, I nearly missed it!

But I’m glad that I didn’t miss it.  I say this despite the fact that I’m beyond terrified of heights and The Walk is all about creating the experience of balancing on a wire that’s been suspended between two of the tallest buildings in the world.  As I watched the film, there were many times when I struggled to catch my breath.  I had to put my hands over my mismatched eyes a few times.  But I’m still glad that I saw the film.

The Walk is based on a true story.  In 1974, French street performer Philippe Patet (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is even more adorable here than usual if that’s possible) and a group of accomplices manage to suspend a high wire between the twin towers of the just constructed World Trade Center. High above New York City, Philippe walked across the wire a total of six times.  In the film, Philippe narrates the story while standing on top of the Statue of Liberty.  From the minute that we see Gordon-Levitt and he starts to speak in a theatrical (but never implausible) French accent, we immediately like and relate to Philippe.  By the end of the film, his triumph is our triumph.

At the same time, we also feel his sadness.  Up until the film’s final line, when Philippe makes a subtle reference to it, 9-11 is never explicitly mentioned in The Walk but the shadow of that monstrous attack still looms over frame of the film.  By recreating both Philippe’s act of daring and the Twin Towers themselves, Zemeckis attempts to reclaim the legacy of the World Trade Center from the asshole terrorists who destroyed it.

And The Walk really does put you right there on that wire.  If ever there’s been a film that you must simply see in 3D, it’s The Walk.  Just be prepared to watch some of the movie through your fingers.

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