The Walk

The Walk

In Theatres: 
Oct 02, 2015
Running Time: 
123 minutes

The Walk is not for the faint of heart. It is especially not for those who have a severe fear of heights. That being said, The Walk is also one of the few films that needs to be seen in IMAX 3D for maximum impact. It’s an exhilarating story that is only enhanced by its immersive experience.


Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a French high-wire artist who dreams big, or should I say high. Having already walked between the two towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral, he now has his sights set on the newly constructed World Trade Center towers in New York City. With his next act now decided on, Philippe must devise a plan to suspend a high-wire between the two tallest buildings in the world without getting arrested by the police. Then comes the actual feat of walking across a thin wire 1,300 feet above the city streets with nothing but a pole to help keep his balance, and where one misstep results in him plummeting to his death.


Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers is no stranger to the big screen, having already been well documented in the Academy Award-winning documentary Man on Wire. The Walk is essentially the same story, only in a more dramaticize fashion. It plays out very much like a heist film, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt scoping out the World Trade Center towers for his master performance and then orchestrating every little detail to get his equipment up to the roof and setting it all up in a single night before the sun rises. Petit is someone who has devoted his entire life to the high-wire act, and Gordon-Levitt brings that same enthusiasm to the role. He is thrilling to watch, and you can clearly see that behind all the special effects and green screens is someone who is truly committed to the role.


Where he stumbles a bit is in the narration. The film opens with Gordon-Levitt standing atop the Statue of Liberty with the Twin Towers in the background as he speaks directly to the audience about his high-wire stunt. It’s shoddily done and unfortunately isn’t just a one time thing as we’re constantly returning to the backdrop for more exposition. It breaks the immersion the film wonderfully sets up in the first place. His French accent can also be a bit grating at times, but thankfully that’s mostly confined to the narration portions.


The Walk’s shining moment is when Petit finally steps out on the wire and slowly inches his way across the massive void between towers. The sequence is beyond intense, especially in IMAX 3D, as it feels like you’re up there on the wire with him. My hands were sweating the entire time as they tightly clutched the armrests on either side of me. The entire final third of the film is simply captivating and worth the buildup.


The Walk is a careful balance of fact and fiction that delivers intense thrills thanks to its impressive use of IMAX and 3D. The story of Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk across the World Trade Center towers has been told better, but there’s nothing that can match watching it unfold in The Walk.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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