Twelve people have walked on the moon, but only one man, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), has ever, or will ever, walk in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. Guided by his real-life mentor, Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), and aided by an unlikely band of international recruits, Petit and his gang overcome long odds, betrayals, dissension and countless close calls to conceive and execute their mad plan. Robert Zemeckis, the director of such marvels as “Forrest Gump,” “Cast Away,” “Back to the Future,” “Polar Express” and “Flight,” again uses cutting edge technology in the service of an emotional, character-driven story. With innovative photo-realistic techniques and IMAX 3-D wizardry, “The Walk” is true big-screen cinema, a chance for moviegoers to viscerally experience the feeling of reaching the clouds. The film is PG-rated, all-audience entertainment for moviegoers 8 to 80, unlike anything audiences have seen before. It is a love letter to Paris and New York City in the 1970s.
“The Walk” is an entertaining movie based on the incredible true story of Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who walked on a wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center on Aug. 6, 1974. The film opens with the character of Petit speaking to the movie audience from atop the Statue of Liberty in New York City. He sets the stage for the story, which then flashes to the days before his feat and the subsequent events that led up to the big jaw-dropping moment.
The story shows Petit as a young man, how he becomes fascinated with tight-rope walkers and how he begins practicing the art. Eventually he walks a wire between the large buildings of the Notre Dame Cathedral. When he sees a newspaper photo of the twin towers of the nearly-completed World Trade Center building in New York City, he’s captivated. When the newspaper runs a story on his accomplishment at Notre Dame, the same paper runs a photo of the World Trade Center, and Petit sees it as a sign that he must make this dream happen! “This is providence!” he declares.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is enthusiastic and quite believable as Petit, the man with big dreams. He elicits the help of his girlfriend Annie (Charlotte Le Bon) and several friends, including a mentor named Rudy (Ben Kingsley). The amount of red tape Petit and his friends have to navigate is amazing as he begins to scope out the perfect time to do his walk and to make sure nothing interferes. He has to secure the right equipment, slip past guards and make his way to the top floor of the World Trade Center the night before his planned walk at dawn. I saw this film in 3-D on the IMAX screen and many of the scenes are from Petit’s point of view as he walked. It was dizzying and incredible. I had to remind myself a few times, “It is just a movie!” Those fearful of heights should take note of this.
Near the end of the film, Annie tells Philippe, “I am glad the towers called you.” In light of the World Trade Center now being sadly gone, this film makes quite an impact, especially at the conclusion. Regrettably, the film contains strong language, not to mention rear male nudity and onscreen drug use, so we are prevented from awarding it our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.