The Walk  is the new 3D event film from acclaimed director and 80’s staple Robert Zemeckis. The film follows French high-wire artist Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he gathers a team to help him achieve his ultimate goal: walk on a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Is it a spoiler to say if he succeeded or not? It, like, actually happened. You know what, just look it up so you can’t blame this review for “spoiling” it.
Pretty. Odd. The Walk is one of the most surprisingly odd movies I’ve seen in a good while. One could, just as I did, assume that it would be typical awards season biopic fare. It really isn’t, and while it’s nice to have a film that tries to differentiate itself, it does so in some unusual ways. First off is the narration device. It constantly nags throughout the film and seems like something in a movie you’d watch in school or one of those IMAX documentaries. It’s very annoying and quickly becomes a nuisance. Next is the poor CG evident everywhere except the show-stopping main event. It’s pretty great there, but everywhere else it’s distracting. It’s a very strange movie disguised as a 3D romp.
And then there’s the pacing. The pacing, as one may imagine by the trailers, is not good. The film drags through its first two acts. This is totally unsurprising because even the most casual filmgoer would tell you the movie is built around the big wire walk. Everything else was created to give it context and stretch the running time. You trudge through the dull, uninteresting, though admittedly whimsical first two acts to get to the main event.
The main event. The World Trade Center wire walk is pretty dazzling. The 3D is used to amazing effect that gives the feeling of vertigo very well. The effects here are great and the movie becomes very tense and pulse-pounding. However, it happens and then becomes repetitive. It grows tiring despite its great direction as the walk happens and then Petit just does it again. Without spoiling anything, I got the feeling of, “okay, is anything else going to happen?”
What’s the point? Obviously the point was to get awards attention, but let me tell you right now, it will not get any. It, to put it bluntly, is not good enough in any way to deserve any kind of awards. Okay, now that the awards stuff is out of the way, what else was it trying to accomplish? Thematically the movie is thin to say the least. Sure, it’s about trying to achieve impossible dreams, but how many times has that been done before? Beyond that, there really isn’t anything resembling a theme. The World Trade Center imagery also conjures up the worst memories for many Americans, so even as a tribute to 9/11, a lot of people don’t want to see that. And why now of all times to do a 9/11 tribute. This event helped define the Towers as an entity, but why now in 2015 does this come out? Then there’s the 3D spectacle side and it still seems in the wrong time. The 3D frenzy started by Avatar has worn out, so capitalizing on that is a moot point. Man on Wire told this story in the best format for this story: documentary. Watch that instead. It’s more satisfying in every way.
and even that doesn’t fully deliver.