Film Review: A Lot of Talk for Just a Walk

Robert Zemekis, a director so well known for his work in such acclaimed films like the Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and Flight, has his newest film out, The Walk. Competing with highly anticipated science-fiction novel adaptation, The Martian, some debatable questions arise: How well will The Walk do in the box office this weekend? Is this a good alternative if you’re not interested in The Martian? Hopefully this review can help you answer some of those questions.

The Walk stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50, Inception, (500) Days of Summer) as French high-wire performer, Philippe Petite. He loves to perform in front of people and put his wire anywhere he deems artistic enough for him to walk across on. One day, he discovers a page in a magazine of an upcoming project (the Twin Towers) in New York that he finds so beautiful that he wants to put his wire in between the two buildings and attempt to walk on it.

With the help of Papa Rudy, played by Ben Kingsley (Hugo, Ghandi, Iron Man 3) in teaching him the ways of high-wire walking, Philippe assembles a group of people to help him make his dream come true. He and the crew study the two buildings in every possible way from when people get there, measurements between the towers, what time people come to deliver things to the place, and when people leave. It’s a story of ambition, courage, pride, and risk to make for a tense, yet thrilling biopic.

Official movie poster for The Walk

Official movie poster for The Walk

If you decide to go see this movie, make sure you see it in IMAX 3D! There is honestly no way of seeing this film without it. When Phillipe looks down for the first time on top of the Twin Towers, it’s exhilarating; you feel like you’re right there with him looking down. The walk across the Towers itself is so fun to watch, but also so nerve-wrecking as we hope our main character won’t fall. 

This film is on a pretty large scale and makes you feel just as high up as the characters are. The visuals and cinematography of The Walk are probably the best part of the film and honestly visually impressed me more than The Martian.

The music is also done very well. It’s Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump, The Avengers) and he knows how to make a really good original score for a film. Acting is also great, mainly from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This is his movie and everyone is there to see him triumph in the end. The others do well in being supportive with Levitt’s character, especially from Kingsley.

Honestly, the weakest part of the film for me was the story and writing. For the story, I feel like this movie could have been about 20-25 minutes shorter. Films nowadays run about two hours on average and this is one that definitely only needed about a half-hour less. It just isn’t too interesting watching a guy getting ready to walk a wire in the end.

A lot of the characters in general feel pretty weak and forgettable with the exception of Levitt and Kingsley. They should have gone deeper into relationships like the romance between Levitt and Charlotte Le Bon’s character Annie with this run time, but did not capitalize on the opportunity resulting in an empty and unsatisfying relationship.

Writing, while fine overall, is nothing so spectacular that people will be repeating line after line once the film is over. Usually Robert Zemekis films are great in writing like Forrest Gump and Cast Away. The only exception to this is the final line said by Levitt, along with the final shot of the film. It was absolutely perfect. I cannot think of any other way to end this film. It was simply marvelous and sent chills down my spine.

While going into this film, I kept thinking to myself, “Are they going to do bring up 9/11 at all?” since it is a film focusing on the famous Twin Towers. This film not so much pays a tribute to them, but more of a respectable remembrance of them being by sharing a very exciting story about a man walking on a wire between the two beloved towers.

Overall, The Walk was exactly what I was expecting from the film, a fun time to be had with, but nothing grand. It had some Academy Award worthy cinematography, music and effects, the acting was great, and it was a fun experience going to see it in IMAX and in 3D. While the story and writing were weak, they don’t destroy the film. It probably won’t beat The Martian financially, or even critically, but it is a good alternative if you are looking for something with some dazzling visuals. If you’re interested, check it out, but only in IMAX 3D!