The Walk is the true story of a young dreamer, Philippe Petit, and a band of unlikely recruits who together achieve the impossible: an illegal wire walk in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. With little more than nerve and blind ambition, Petit and his ragtag crew overcome daunting physical obstacles, betrayals, countless close calls and overwhelming odds to beat the system and execute their mad plan.
The Walk stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit, a French street artist who becomes obsessed with tightrope walking at a young age. Philippe hones his craft under the guidance of the experienced high-wire performer Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), before setting out to “hang his wire” in a variety of challenging and dangerous locations – sometimes illegally, if need be. However, after seeing an image of the mid-construction World Trade Center, Philippe decides that his dream is to perform the artistic “coup” of the century: walking a high-wire strung between the Twin Towers.
The Walk is an entertaining and often thrilling piece of storytelling, in addition to being an impressive display of 3D filmmaking. If Flight represented Zemeckis’ return to form after several years of directing polarizing motion-capture feature films, then The Walk demonstrates the director is still invested in telling great stories through whatever cutting-edge filmmaking technology is available to him. While The Walk isn’t on the same level as Gravity as a whole experience, it nevertheless does raise the bar for future 3D filmmaking ventures in numerous ways – while still incorporating the core ingredients of any good movie (good performances, solid writing, etc.).
Those who have never seen Petit’s story brought to life before may find The Walk to be an exhilarating rendition of his tale – one that should be experienced on the biggest screen available. Some fans of Man on Wire might find The Walk to be more of a style over substance take on the same narrative (and could also take issue with how it departs from the facts); but again, those open to a different rendering of the same plot may find Zemeckis’ film to be an equally admirable take on Petit’s “artistic crime of the century.”