The Walk ***


Running time 123 mins Cert: PG

Synopsis: As a boy, Philippe Petit dreams of performing daring feats for dazzled crowds. As an adult (Gordon-Levitt), his life’s ambition comes true when he becomes a high-wire artist who stares death in the face with every step. Under the guidance of mentor Papa Rudy (Kingsley), the French daredevil devises a plan to walk on a tightrope attached to the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. With help from his team and against all odds, Petit attempts the seemingly impossible stunt on Aug. 7, 1974.

The story is based on the true events as as the memoir ‘To Reach the Clouds’ . This is not the first time Petit’s story has been brought to the big screen as the brilliant documentary “Man on Wire” screened around 8 years ago to overwhelming critical and audience praise.
 
This live action version follows the same structure as the documentary with a heist picture with biographical flashbacks thrown in. However unlike the documentary this version is not nearly as compelling.
 
One of the things contributing to this is the unnecessary voice-over provided by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He constantly explains the motivations and his feelings regarding his actions, which anyone can clearly decipher for themselves. This criticism is nothing against the actor’s performance as he mimics Petit’s speech and mannerisms to a tea.
 
The focus obviously is on Petit, but none of the supporting cast are particularly memorable, which makes little sense considering the cast director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future). 
His mentor Papa Rudy played by Ben Kingsley briefly appears to offer advice and support. James Badge Dale is the French speaking New York local who joins Petit’s crew. While Charlotte Le Bon has almost nothing to do except for playing the girlfriend without much of any real development about their relationship.
 
These problems make the film drag until the final act which is truly spectacular especially in 3D IMAX, which is not for the faint hearted who have a fear of heights. Once the thrilling spectacular is over there is nothing to explain the interesting developments which were seen in the documentary.
 
The Walk is a unique cinematic experience, but considering the story and the talent involved the film should have been more than a sideshow act.
 
Review by Lesley Logan

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