The Walk is Robert Zemeckis’ take on the story of Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a terrible accent) and his tightrope walk between the Twin Towers back in 1974. Now, I’m a big fan of most of Zemeckis’ work… I mean, just think of Cast Away, Forrest Gump, What Lies Beneath and Back To The Future. The man has some serious skills. But at the same time, let’s not forget that he is also responsible for not so good movies such as A Christmas Carol, Beowulf and Contact. And with The Walk he landed somewhere in between.
Let’s start with the positive. It’s hard to imagine the final half hour of The Walk being more impressive. Watching Petit not just walking that tightrope, but turning around on it and even lying down while you hear the steel cable creak and hear the wind pulling at his clothes? Zemeckis really does an amazing job of transporting you right alongside Petit, 110 stories above ground.
Everything leading up to that finale however, is just not very good. Right at the start of the movie you see Petit standing in the Statue of Liberty’s torch with the Twin Towers looming behind him. He then starts telling the viewers all about the great things he will achieve. And he just keeps on babbling. Not only is the CGI as bad as Gordon-Levitt’s accent, but there’s just no point to this scene. We are already watching the movie, so there’s no reason to try and sell it to us. We’re already there.
But Petit’s voice-over doesn’t stop there. It just keeps going on and on throughout the entire movie about how awesome, amazing and fantastic it is what he does. If we are supposed to develop any kind of sympathy for the main character… well, mission failed. It really takes away from the movie, which could have been great. If only Zemeckis would have shown us just how amazing it all was, rather than having his unlikeable protagonist tell us about it. And as great as those last 30 minutes may be, they ultimately aren’t enough to redeem the rest of the movie.