Friday, October 16, 2015

Movie Review: "The Walk" (2015)

Movie"The Walk"
Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Rating: PG
Running Time: 2 hours, 3 minutes
Image Source
French street performer and performance artist Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) travels to New York to string a high wire between the newly created World Trade Center Twin Towers and walk across them.

Many people who have seen the Academy Award winning documentary "Man on Wire" know the story of Philippe Petit and his quest to high wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Center in the 70's. This film is based on that true story, and though we were a bit skeptical and unexcited about this movie since the documentary basically explained everything that happened, much of the movie-going public either dislikes or flat out refuses to watch documentaries, which we think is a damn shame. We were also worried and wondered how Zemeckis could get audiences to care about Philippe and his dream to walk on a wire. This act wasn't done for notoriety or vanity, but instead, Petit felt the towers call to him, and so, he walked across a wire hanging hundreds of stories in the air to carry out his dream. Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes on the role of Philippe Petit and does a great job in doing so. He is able to portray the passion, showmanship, and love of life attitude of the real life Petit. Though Gordon-Levitt donned a French accent, something new for him as an America, the distraction of it only lasted a little while once we got used to hearing him act with it. Before he made his walk, Petit had to gather a group of trusted confidants, or "accomplices" as he called them, and each of his friends was given a different task to help him on the journey to accomplishing his dream. A splendid secondary cast including Ben Kingsley as Papa Rudy, Petit's mentor, Charlotte Le Bon as Annie, Petit's girlfriend, Clément Sibony as Jean-Louis, a photographer and Petit's close friend, César Domboy as Jeff, a new friend who was also afraid of heights, and Americans Steve Valentine as Barry Greenhouse, who provided access to higher WTC floors, last minute additions Albert, played by Ben Schwartz and David, played by Benedict Samuel, both of whom were skeptical of Petit, and James Badge Dale as Jean-Pierre (JP), an American transplant from France. Though the film's first act was definitely slower and more character building than the first, including the flimsily constructed romance between Annie and Philippe, once in New York, this crew came together to help Petit pull off the only high wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Center in an epic, tension-filled, wonderful second act. The two parts of the story are juxtaposed between the story of a man and his drive to do what has never been done and a love story, but not a love story between Philippe and Annie, but rather, a love story between America and those iconic towers, partially because of what Petit achieved that day. 

Zemeckis is usually known for producing visually stunning movies and "The Walk" is a no exception. Once seeing this film, there is no doubt that Zemeckis achieved his goal of creating a striking visual spectacle for the ages. Shot in 3D, something we're not usually proponents of, this film is an excellent example of how 3D should be used in Hollywood. We could not imagine seeing this movie in 2D because it would lose something in the process. Even knowing how this true story ends, seeing it happen in 3D on the big screen brings a little bit of magic to its execution. We actually feel the tension of The Walk itself from start to finish, wondering if Petit would screw up and make one wrong move, or pull it off flawlessly and live to tell the tale. Knowing what happens doesn't make it any less exciting. 

Philippe's stunt helped contribute to the history of those buildings and helped them become more than just towering monstrosities of glass, steal and concrete, or rather, "filing cabinets in the sky." *Spoilers* In an ever so slight nod to those majestic, beautiful, heaven-gracing towers, at the very end of the movie, Petit, speaking to the camera from atop the Statue of Liberty (which he did throughout the movie), exclaims how upon being presented a WTC observation deck pass by the Port Authority, it had the expiry date crossed out, and instead, "forever" was written in its place. *End spoilers* This ending, this scene, was an absolutely perfect finale to a seeming ode to the Twin Towers on behalf of a man who was called to them to make them great. As an American, 9/11 impacted us all from sea to shining sea, and instead of choosing to either focus on this event, which would have made no sense being that this movie takes place in the 1970's, or ignoring it altogether, which would have seemed sort of wrong, to hear this line stirred something inside me I could not contain and slowly, I began to cry. Even thinking about it right now is making me choke up because with this one, tiny scene, Zemeckis was able to portray the horrible events of that fateful day beautifully without ever exploiting the tragedy that befell the towers. This movie wound up really surprising us and is definitely worth a watch. We implore you, see it in 3D.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 84%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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