Run — don’t walk — to “The Walk.”
Yes, that was lame. But we’ve got a lot of movies to get through this week so cut me some slack. Unless I’m on a high wire.
And now, let’s get down to business. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as French hire-wire artist Philippe Petit, who in 1974 strung a line between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York and defied death and common sense by walking the wire 110 stories above the ground. Without a net. Not that a net would have mattered.
Narrating his story from atop the Statue of Liberty, Petit comes across as a charismatic, terminally cheery fellow. He starts off as a street performer juggling and riding his unicycle around Paris. When he sees a magazine article about the World Trade Center, it becomes his dream to travel to New York and perform the ultimate high-wire act.
He doesn’t actually have any experience on the wire, so he enlists the help of Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), an aging expert in the field. Petit will need more accomplices to pull off this “coup.” Chief among them is musician/girlfriend Annie Allix (Charlotte Le Bon).
Petit and Annie move to New York where Petit spends weeks casing the joint. After assembling his team, Petit sets a date in early August to do the deed. The plan doesn’t go off without a hitch or two, but when daylight comes he’s ready to take the most daring walk of his — or anyone’s — life.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, “The Walk” is charming, maybe a little cheesy, intriguing, and in its final act — astonishing. Yes, I know it’s all green screen and lies but it feels so real. Yes, I know I’m sitting in a movie theater chair and I’m not really 110 stories from certain death, but it feels that way.
I don’t normally advocate spending extra money on frivolous things like 3D and IMAX but if you really want to experience a small fraction of what that walk must have felt like, spring for the IMAX.
Oh, Gordon-Levitt is very good, too. As is the rest of the cast, including the Twin Towers. The World Trade Center is as important a figure in this drama as anyone else. The film ends with a lovely and poignant reminder of that.
But it’s the walk that makes “The Walk” truly soar.