Based on Philippe Petit’s book To Reach the Clouds, this true-life tale starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon and Ben Kingsley is a return to directorial duty for Oscar winning helmer Robert Zemeckis.
High-wire artist Philippe Petit looks to pull off the “artistic coup of the century” by walking a wire across the World Trade Centre towers. The Frenchman – a frustrated street performer with an apparent death-wish – sets about recruiting a band of accomplishes, including girlfriend/musician, Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), to help achieve this ridiculous sounding feat.
Trained by high-wire extraordinaire Papa Rudy (Kinglsey), Petit and his gang of merry law-breakers go about planning how the hell they’re going to get a wire across the world’s two tallest buildings without ending up in jail.
Both aesthetically and narratively, Zemeckis’ latest spectacle appears to have come straight out of the Disney live-action handbook: a dreamer’s love-affair, full of romanticised ideals and beautiful backdrops. Self-narrated in-front of the ominous twin towers by an over-enthusiastic (and very French sounding) Gordon Levitt as the audacious Petit, there’s a check list of cinematic clichés that The Walk narrowly brushes aside thanks to its shiny exterior and Levitt’s child-like enthusiasm.
Misunderstood by his family and consistently facing the wrath of the authorities, yet undeterred in following his high-wire dreams; Petit’s #artisiticproblems are eye-rollingly familiar. Yet beyond this face-palmingly unoriginal narrative is a picturesque quality to proceedings. The Back to the Future director sure knows how to put on a good looking show, and whether it be the scenic streets of Gay Paris or the awe-inspiring heights of the New York skyline, the film’s a beauty to behold.
Though an age of rope-tying filler and Levitt’s best Inspector Clouseau impression do raise a disgruntled eyebrow (or three) as we’re made to wait what seems three lifetimes to finally see him climb on to the bloody wire. It’s a shame the finale – a richly eye-catching, if not surprisingly underwhelming spectacle – is drowned out by its melodramatic build-up.
Overly long and without the necessary charm to pull off its inpspiring-ish message of follow-your-dreams-kids-even-it-means-doing-something-stupid which seems to have been torn out of Walt Disney’s increasingly weary handbook, Zemeckis’ ever-worthy style is outweighed by The Walk’s bloated substance.