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Published On: Wed, Sep 30th, 2015

‘The Walk’ Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt walks the fine line between boring and beautiful

Director Robert Zemeckis taps into dazzling special effects for a Philippe Petit biopic, centering on an intense highwire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Star Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Petit in the longwinded tale to setup a tense moment when the man steps out on the wire.

JGL’s Petit is much more lovable that the egomaniacal daredevil revealed in the 2008 documentary Man on Wire until right before the “Coup.” The Walk begins in 1973 Europe with Petit assembling a team to pull off his dream of performing in New York. Philippe’s mentor Papa Rudy is played by Ben Kingsley with the ensemble cast of “accomplices”: Photographer Jean-Louis (Clement Sibony), Jean-Francois aka Jeff (Cesar Domboy), an investment broker Barry Greenhouse (Steve Valentine) and the smart-talking electronics salesman J.P., brilliantly played by James Badge Dale.

The long-winded intro, including the scenes with Philippe’s love interest (Charlotte Le Bon) all build towards the challenge of getting the gear to the roof of the Twin Towers, which is surprisingly thrilling. When Petit steps out on that wire, the focus shifts to amazing visuals and incredible tension, worthy of a viewing in 3D.

the walk joseph gordon levitt as Philippe PetitSadly, the clunky JGL narration interferes and distracts from the climax.

Based on the true incident from August 7, 1974, the movements across the wire almost becomes absurd and not as “magical” as promises and incredibly overhyped by movie critics and fans of New York. Shots on the wire, from the wire and up at the wire are truly the best components to an otherwise mediocre film.

There is a somber hint at New Yorkers hating the Twin Towers and how Petit fits into the narrative which changed that perspective, only to endure their destruction in 2001. Zemeckis never gets heavy handed here, but can’t find enough substance to make us care more about the event.

Deadline noted that “If it weren’t all true, no one would ever buy it…” (a fact ignored by critics for most faith-based films), but couldn’t be more true with The Walk.

James Badge Dale steals every scene, Domboy is great as the comic relief to break the tension with the wire and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is indeed charming. The star of The Walk is the visual effects, sure to praised and glorified, but too clunky at times (the CGI sea gull?) and cannot save the climax which becomes dull, silly and boring after the initial moments.

Nothing is more irritating than the gratuitous narration from a bloviating Petit losing his charm and just becoming an artistic criminal with no real message or purpose to share.

The Walk earns 2 1/2 stars out of 5 stars.

The film is designed to be seen in IMAX 3D and I can’t imagine how much worse the film would appear in 2D, losing the special effects. If you love cinematography or New York, add a star – you are the target audience.

 

The Walk movie poster

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professional in 2008 on sites like Examiner and blogs: Desk of Brian, Crazed Fanboy. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) will be a licensed Assembly of God Pastor by the Spring of 2017. "Why do we do this?" I was asked and the answer is simple. "I just want the truth. I want a source of information that tells me what's going and clearly attempts to separate opinion from fact. Set aside left and right, old and young, just point to the world and say, 'Look!'" To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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