Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, Benedict Samuel
Oscar winning director Robert Zemeckis (Contact, Forrest Gump, Cast Away) has done it again, blown my mind. Ever the homme de génie, Zemeckis understands that pressing all the buttons at once can sometimes can make a story come alive. The casting is equally as mind-blowing. What does it take for a true story about a French high-wire daredevil walking the distance between The Twin Towers to keep our interest for two hours… Joseph Gordon Levitt. Multi-talented, Zemeckis constantly breaks new ground in visual effects and animation, but the director is a master at choosing the right actor for his leading roles. The Walk will mostly be remembered for how sweaty your palms are while watching the almost unfathomable death defying wire walk but it also serves as a beautiful, heartfelt and respectful memorial to The Twin Towers.
In the 1970’s Philippe Petit (Levitt) was nothing more than a street performer, kicked out of his family home, making a living on spare change from juggling, magic tricks and wire walking. Always looking for a new place to put his wire, Petit first learned about New York City’s World Trade Center in a magazine, it would become his obsession to find a way to walk the distance between the cities two tallest buildings. Petit got advice in walking, knot tying and experience from traveling French circus entertainer Papa Rudy (Kingsley). With the perfect team and plan in place, Petit along with his girlfriend and biggest supporter would travel to the Big Apple before the towers were finished to attempt the stunt that ended up making international headlines.
Zemeckis once again champions the human spirit in a way that feels personal and intimate.
From the moment Levitt appears on screen, the actor known for his physical work on Inception or intuitive work behind the camera on Don Jon, he becomes Petit from the voice and mannerisms to the studied movements. Zemeckis’ choice of Levitt (saying he was the only actor to have all the tools to assume the role), is continuously validated throughout his performance because of how much we like him. It’s his best work yet on screen. He charms the audience with his grins and his passion, making the prelude to the walk as enjoyable as the stunt itself. We come to care about Petit through Levitt’s performance, we want to see him achieve this dream. In Contact, Jodie Foster’s character was against all the odds, as was Tom Hanks in Cast Away and Forrest Gump. Zemeckis once again champions the human spirit in a way that feels personal and intimate.
When we finally get to the moment everyone has been waiting for, it doesn’t disappoint. The visual effects here are so impressive that they feel real, and even the trained eye might miss them Dariusz Wolski (The Martian, Prometheus) had the daunting task of recreating the towers and shooting a film mostly from above, always giving the audience an excruciating downward view. The Walk isn’t for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights. If you can, watch the film in IMAX 3D (Zemeckis used 3D cameras and lenses). There are many moments where the viewer is far more nervous than our leading man. The finale really gives the filmmaker a chance to wow us with such intense sound, visuals, and performance to the point that you may have to look away. The intimacy Petit shared with those mammoth towers is fully realized and they truly become co-stars.
A thrilling and emotional cinematic experience that captures the determination and imagination of both the characters on screen and the filmmakers behind it.