The Walk tells the real-life tale of Philippe Petit, a high-wire walker who sets himself increasingly challenging goals, culminating in 1974 with walking across a wire that’s stretched between the top of the North and South towers of the newly-built World Trade Center.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes the lead as Petit, narrating the entire movie in flashback whilst stood on and around the flame of the Statue of Liberty (I do hope that’s CGI!), and with an accent that’s a bit dodgy, but no less so than the Czech attempt by Ben Kingsley as his mentor, Papa Rudy (making the second film in two days where I’d seen Mr Kingsley as a mentor, following The Physician). Still, put that all to one side and you have a biographical film that feels longer than it needs to be at times, but which is also thorough enough so that nothing is missed out. Hence, it’s a thin line to tread between the two (to bring in a tightrope metaphore).
With the dialogue occasionally dipping into French, the film is periodically subtitled but there are times when characters will swap back into English. This seems a bit odd that two people having a conversation don’t permanently stick to one language, but anyway.
All that said, there’s not a whole heap of time traversed in this movie as it begins in 1973 and, before long, there’s a chance meeting with French chanteuse Annie (Charlotte Le Bon – no relation) early on, who supports Philippe in his dream. I would’ve liked things to speed along a bit faster, however, until we get to the point around 90 minutes in when we get to the point that we’ve all come to see. The bit that’s like watching Star Wars and waiting for Luke & co. to take their assault on the Death Star…
(click on the above image for the full-size version)
Well, I say “all”, but in the cinema – and this was just 3 days after it was released, and also solely in the IMAX on its first week – there were SEVEN people: 3 couples and me. One of these couples was sat in front of me, just a bit to the right (I took the middle of the back row, of the Premier seats), and I could see they were getting restless. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Just at this precise moment, they upped and left!
And they missed the best part. While there’s great and frequent use of 3D, it’s accompanied by a film that’s fairly stodgy in parts, but what followed was breathtaking, perfect, edge-of-the-seat entertainment. Even if you *hated* the rest, what followed was like when a rollercoaster is going over the top and about to descend. It was amazing and I wish I’d see it on the bigger Manchester Printworks IMAX rather than the Trafford Centre one, but the parking in town is impossible, and I couldn’t have asked for better positioning than where I was sat (M13, was the seat, but the middle of the screen goes between M13 and M14 if you’re being accompanied and want to know the ‘sweet spot’) and also a better lack of other individuals in the cinema, given the amount of promotion this film has had, and also that it was in its first week, and exclusively in IMAX for this week.
However, given that this is one of the few *must-see* films in 3D, along with Life of Pi, Gravity, Prometheus and Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning*, how many will end up only seeing it in 2D and on DVD when that gets released? They won’t appreciate Zemeckis’ direction whilst shooting with a Deep Vision 3D camera with 6K resolution.
(*one of these four is a lie. Can you spot which one?)
I do hope that, based on the auditorium I was in, that The Walk doesn’t bomb just because people can’t be bothered to go and see it. Either way, I look forward to it winning the SFX Oscar and BAFTA in early 2016. I also now need to catch up with Man On Wire, the documentary about Philippe Petit.
The Walk isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD, but should be before too long. However, you can click on the poster for the full-size image.
Running time: 123 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Format: 2.35:1 (Deep Vision (6K))
Released: October 2nd 2015 (IMAX 3D exclusive), October 9th 2015 (general release)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Producers: Jack Rapke, Tom Rothman, Steve Starkey and Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay: Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Browne (based on the book “To Reach the Clouds” by Philippe Petit)
Music: Alan Silvestri
Philippe Petit: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Annie: Charlotte Le Bon
Papa Rudy: Ben Kingsley
Jeff/Jean-François: César Domboy
Jean-Louis: Clément Sibony
Jean-Pierre: James Badge Dale
Albert: Ben Schwartz
David: Benedict Samuel
Boy Petit: Soleyman Pierini
Guy Tozolli: Mark Camacho
Circus High Wire Performer: Jade Kindar-Martin
Petit’s Father: Patrick Baby
Petit’s Mother: Marie Turgeon
WTC Construction Worker: Guido Grasso Jr
WTC Lobby Guard: Robert D’Alessio
WTC Visitor’s Concierge: Rosa Ruby Kagan
Officer Foley: Mizinga Mwinga
Elevator Operator: Stuart Fink
WTC Rooftop Guard: Doug Price
Mysterious Visitor: Yanik Ethier
Sgt O’Donnell: Vittorio Rossi
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.