Film Review by Kam Williams
High-Wire Drama Recreates French Daredevil’s Stroll between the Twin Towers
In 1968, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a struggling juggler, mime, magician and trapeze artist decided to elevate his game, literally, by stringing his tightrope between the tops of the Twin Towers. The World Trade Center was yet to be erected, which gave the Parisian street performer a half-dozen years to plan and practice for his death-defying feat.
Finally, on the morning of August 7, 1974, he pulled off the eye-popping stunt with the help of a few friends sworn to secrecy. They’d agreed to help rig the high wire, despite breaking the law in the process.
You see, Philippe hadn’t bothered to ask the authorities for permission, figuring it’d never be approved. And for 40 minutes, he put on a heart-stopping show, during which he danced a jig, saluted the crowd below and even lay down on the wire to take a brief rest.
Written and directed by Oscar-winner Bob Zemeckis (for Forest Gump), The Walk recounts the events surrounding Philippe’s bold and historic stroll. However, the film takes a few liberties with the facts along the way, ostensibly in deference to the demand for the sort of romance and tension found in the typical Hollywood drama.
Consequently, Philippe has a hand-wringing love interest here, Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), as well as several close calls while hovering a quarter-mile above the ground between skyscrapers. In reality, the relationship wasn’t very serious and the only time he feared for his life was when he fell down a flight of stairs while being manhandled by the cops who’d just arrested him.
If you’re interested in an accurate, if less sensational version of events, check out Man on Wire which won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary. But if all you care about is production values, stick with this hyperactive, special f/x-driven affair guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat until Philippe plants his feet back on solid earth.
A heart-stopping spectacular which plays fast and loose with the truth in the interest of overstimulating entertainment.
Good (2 stars)
Rated PG for mature themes, peril, brief nudity, drug references, smoking and mild epithets
Running time: 123 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures