Critic’s Corner: The Walk

Was it necessary to make a film about Philipe Petit, the high-wire walker who traversed the space between the Twin Towers in 1974, when it had already been the subject of the documentary, “Man on Wire,” in 2008? Probably not. Was it worth it?

Oh, yes.

Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk” is a towering achievement of filmmaking as it leads you on a massively entertaining story just to get to the titular walk. We follow Petit—played ambitiously by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who endows Petit with a showmanship-like quality—as he sets out to fulfill his dream of casting and traversing a wire between the nearly finished Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

The majority of the movie feels like a spy-caper, as Petit amasses a trusty crew to help him set up his daring feat. The supporting cast does not feel like they are given their dues, mainly serving as a means to move the plot forward, but the real story is about Petit and his dream. As the film propels itself towards its magnificent climax, which is hands-down one of the most unforgettable moments in film this year, there is no questioning the movie’s sheer pleasure in building the anticipation for what the audience has come to see.

I knew it was coming, but I didn’t quite expect how potent and triumphant the actual walk would be. As Petit stands on the precipice, things go quiet save for the creaking wire that extends into eternity. He takes a step and all of sudden—thanks to precise, deft use of IMAX 3D technology that somehow never becomes over-the-top—I am standing there on the wire looking down the terrifying drop with him. My heart skips a beat and Petit continues to walk. For the next 17 minutes, a profound and monumental scene pull viewers into the world of the movie and does its absolute best to try and make you feel as if you were somewhere you will never get a chance to be.

Zemeckis crafts a soaring film in “The Walk,” honoring not only a man and his dreams, but also a city—and the towers that are no longer with us.

Scott can be reached at [email protected]