Director : Robert Zemeckis (The Polar Express) Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley, Clémont Sibony, James Badge Dale.
IN The Walk, what seems to be an open-and-shut case of mind prevailing over matter is very skilfully scaled upwards and outwards.
By the time the final credits roll, the movie has glided to a higher, better place, where attitude has triumphed over altitude. And the view is simply glorious.
This is the amazing true story of Philippe Petit, a decorated French high-wire walker whose ultimate achievement came 110 storeys above the sidewalks of New York City.
It was here, one August morning in 1974, Petit took a lengthy airborne stroll between the World Trade Center’s twin towers.
With the help of a ragtag cabal of co-conspirators, Petit was able to set up several thin metal ropes to link the corners of the two buildings.
As construction on the WTC site was yet to be formally completed, security was not what it could have been to stop this daring (and illegal) escapade. So Petit was free to artfully amble back and forth along his trusty wire, as if he was merely moving from the kitchen to the loungeroom.
There was no safety harness and, of course, when performing at a height of more than 400m, a net below would have been totally useless.
Once The Walk reaches the point where Petit must finally pull off the creative caper that has consumed his entire life, the film is a genuine visual wonder to behold (especially when seen in 3D – the entirety of Petit’s time out on the wire conveys a dramatic sense of sheer height the recent adventure saga Everest curiously did not).
However, to get to the great stuff, you will have to patiently endure an hour of piffling preamble that backs up a lot of wackiness and whimsy, and lets it spill all over the screen.
The wait is definitely worth it, even if you never quite warm to the implausibly jaunty portrayal of Petit by lead actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (or the bits where he narrates the tale direct-to-camera from on top of the Statue of Liberty).
Gordon-Levitt quite literally hits a perfect stride once The Walk stops goofing around and positions itself atop the World Trade Center.
With the help of innovative effects and some intricate direction from Robert Zemeckis, Gordon-Levitt masterfully maps out each step of Petit’s audacious sashay across the sky with both exacting skill and surprising emotion.