Film review: The Walk

This is a breathtaking view of one of the 20th century’s greatest daredevil stunts, says Michael Joyce.

Theoretically Phillippe Petit has to be one of the least likely, and appealing characters ever to head up a Hollywood movie. An arrogant, egotistical French trapeze artist and street busker, a man who did mime, who runs rings around American security forces. In the last decade though his greatest feat, a surreptitious, unauthorised walk between the just-completed Twin Towers of The World Trade Centre in 1974, has became an improbable, unclassifiable mix of memorial and act of defiant celebration; something both solemn and anarchic.

So yes, this is exactly the same story you already saw in the celebrated, Oscar-winning documentary Man On Wire. The decision to make a dramatic feature of it may seem redundant, especially as its form is closer to documentary than drama. But the reason for making it is actually pretty obvious – here you get to see the money shot. In Man On Wire there was a great hole where the point should be. Petit had failed to arrange for the walk to be filmed, there were just a couple of photographers up there. Zemeckis’s film fulfils our need to see what happened.

Man on Wire had to focus on the heist aspects of the story, how Petit recruited a gang to help him secretly get up the Towers at night and throw and attach a sturdy rope between them. In The Walk this is the build up for the CGI recreation of the act, which is every bit as breath-taking and spectacular as you could wish for. For most of the time it really does look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt is walking on a rope, 110 storeys in the air between two buildings that no longer exist. This is one of the few movies that has to be seen in 3D.

that in the places where the effects don’t quite convince the 3D probably exacerbates it.) Sure, it’s faked, but there’s still something very beautiful and very moving about it.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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