As a child in Paris, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) snuck into the circus. After seeing the “White Devils” he became obsessed with the high wire. He taught himself how to walk on a rope. Under the tutelage of Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), Philippe honed his skills. As a young man, he is now a street performer. He amazes his audiences with his act and i always looking for the perfect place to hang his wire.
One day, Philippe sees an article in a newspaper showing the construction of the towers of the World Trade Center. As he stared at the picture, he realized his dream. The twin towers would be the perfect showcase for his act. Aside from having to travel to America, Philippe’s coup, as he called it, would be highly illegal.
To prepare for his pièce de résistance, Philippe must recruit a crew of accomplices. He enlists Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), his girlfriend and a fellow street performer, his friend and official photographer, Albert (Ben Schwartz), as well as Jean-Pierre (James Badge Dale) and Jean-François “Jeff” (César Domboy). He also consulted Papa Rudy, for his expertise on how to prepare and secure the cable. The crew traveled to New York City to do extensive research to carry out their plan.
The stakes are high, not only in the feat itself, but also in being able to secretly get their equipment into the new buildings and string the wire between the towers. If they can pull it off, it would be the artistic crime of the century.
The Walk is based on the true story of Philippe Petit, who planned to stretch a wire between the towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.
Some people, namely the two gentlemen next to me, may find Joseph Gordon-Levitt off-putting as a Frenchmen. I, however, must respectfully disagree. Not only is his French accent spot on, it is also the most consistent of all the characters in the film. The accents of some of his accomplices seem to fade in and out at times, which became a bit distracting. But Gordon-Levitt’s performance is more than just an accent. He brings the character to live, showing Philippe’s passion for the high wire and his joie de vivre.
While Joseph Gordon-Levitt did actually learn to walk on a wire from Philippe Petit, himself, there are times where CGI is obviously used. It looks more unnatural, of course. And there are some times where CGI elements were added that look a bit hokey. I guess it works for the style of storytelling they are using, which is a little different from most movies, and adds a level of charm to the movie. It has a fun, light feel, while giving just enough tension to the important parts of the story.
Aside from the aforementioned CGI, where the film excels is in its visual effects. Seeing it in IMAX 3D gives you the dizzying sense of just how daring Philippe’s walk was. They throw in plenty of flying in your face 3D effects to please audiences who are looking for that. On top of that, as Philippe relives his youth in Paris, most of the scenes are shown in black and white, with selective pops of color to give the scene some oomph and make it more visually interesting.
The Walk tells an interesting story, which, honestly, I don’t remember ever hearing about. It may not pack the punch that the summer movies did, but we’re past blockbuster season. It’s a nice, easy movie that lets you just sit back and enjoy it for what it is. If you are planning to see it, definitely see go for the IMAX 3D. It’s the only way to appreciate it.