So I watched The Walk…
I’ve never been the biggest fan of 3D, actually let me rephrase, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the way most film studios use 3D. The majority of the time it’s just a gimmick used to squeeze a few more bucks out of the audience; but occasionally, there comes a director and a story that demand the magnificence and glory of 3D. The Walk is one of these movies and not only does it demand to be seen in 3D, it deserves to be seen in IMAX 3D.
Okay, basic plot: Philippe Petit is an ambitious, young street performer who dreams of being a master wire-walker – the best in history, in fact. Philippe’s entire life has been consumed with trying to find the perfect place to hang his wire. In 1973, he finds just such a place – The Twin Towers of The World Trade Centre. Philippe along with his girlfriend – Annie – assemble a crew of willing accomplices to help him pull of this extremely dangerous, daring and, not to mention, illegal performance.
This movie is MAJESTIC! That’s the only way to describe it. In fact, it’s a perfect example of what a biographical film should be. I was so entranced and interested by this story and the man behind it that I did a quick Google search on the actual Philippe Petit and his life. He’s an extraordinary character who’s lived an amazing life and I was surprised by how many of his feats weren’t in the movie. This is brilliant and shows the focus that screenwriters – Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Browne – displayed in their storytelling. Too often biographical films try to display every single detail of a person’s life and this leads to a diluted, bloated film lacking a focal point. The Walk focuses on Petit’s walk between The Twin Towers but still provides enough side stories for you to properly appreciate the character. Not only that, this film is aware that it isn’t a documentary and provides enough Hollywood pizzazz to temper the facts of the true story so the film entertains just as much as it educates; therefore, leading to a dramatic and engaging film experience.
I also have to give director, Robert Zemeckis, and the visual effects team immense praise for the use and application of the IMAX 3D technology effects in the film. This was the most immersive cinematic experience I’ve ever had in my life. Whenever the camera panned down and showed the ground hundreds of feet below Philippe’s wire, I felt physically afraid. I could feel my heart pounding and my breathing becoming more and more shallow with every step Philippe took. It was amazing. I felt like I was at the top of The Twin Towers and that’s the point of film and art isn’t it? To make you experience things, see things that you can’t even imagine. I love this movie because it didn’t only help me observe Philippe’s amazing performance, it made me experience it and that’s an amazing feat in itself. Bravo, Mr Zemeckis, you’ve done it again!
The Walk also has an amazing energy and style to it. In essence, it’s a heist movie – there’s an illegal task which must be performed at a certain time and under certain conditions, we see our criminal hero gathering his crew, equipment and recon on the task ahead and eventually performing the daring crime. This movie is exciting. Besides the death-defying walk, the events leading up to it really entertained me. There’s as much effort given to the actual walk, as its planning and the characters necessary to pull it off. This makes you feel apart of the journey so win or lose, success or failure, you’re invested in the process.
Now this whole process would mean nothing without amazing actors to bring the story to life. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is superb. Ever since I saw him in Inception, he’s been getting better and better and I think his performance in this movie is going to be his first serious knock on The Academy’s door. He definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for his work in this film. I’m not French nor do I know what perfect French sounds like but the fluency and proficiency he exhibits throughout the whole movie is remarkable. He sounds unbelievably natural. His accent isn’t over-the-top or too subtle, it’s just right. He also does an amazing job embodying the essence of Petit’s character. He brings the arrogance and undeniable charm of Petit forth and, most importantly, the insanity needed for a person to attempt such feats. He’s remarkable and really is this movie’s leading star. Gordon-Levitt’s supporting cast also do fantastic work. Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon and James Badge Dale really impressed me and formed the perfect compliment to Gordon-Levitt’s sensational performance.
I also have to commend the respect and reverence this movie shows to The Twin Towers. Apparently Petit’s walk played a large part in the popularisation of the towers and Petit’s relationship with them is something of a love affair. You can tell that Zemeckis was extremely careful and respectful in his portrayal of the towers and, at times, they felt like a character in the movie. I’m not American so I don’t think the full gravity of this gesture resonated with me but I have to appreciate the effort shown.
Overall, The Walk is an amazing watch. It tells the story in a very genuine and heartfelt manner. I recommend seeing it in IMAX 3D because Zemeckis (whose career has been marked by his groundbreaking use of special effects) makes perfect use of the effect. The story and acting is still a great experience even if you watch it in regular 2D, either way, go watch this movie at the cinema, please. 8/10