Review: ‘The Walk’ is a Relaxing Ride 110 Stories in the Air

Neil R. Feeney ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Walk. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Walk. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.
A juggler tosses fiery bowling pins into the air and catches them behind his back. A giant elephant shows its nose on top of a ball. Silly clowns spray each other with water. All acts are entertaining, bold, and safe, for that is simply the point of a circus: fun, safe, and bold. One would never see an offensive act at the circus; no one would dare crack an abusive joke or inflict harm onto someone else because that is simply not how the circus works. The Walk, the new Robert Zemeckis film about wire-walker Philippe Petit, is like a circus: it’s fun, safe, and bold, and, well, not much else. The spectacle of a story behind someone attempting to tightrope one-hundred-and-ten stories above New York City is quite the fun spectacle, but it is a safe one. The story is there simply to get ready for the walk, and nothing more. The metaphors, the foreshadowing, and the development: all for the walk. Zemeckis knows this, and so the entire movie seems to be a precursor to it.
That is not to say that the film is boring, far from it. It is very entertaining to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt don a French accent and act as a French street performer, a role one would not imagine for an actor of his caliber, but with a history of acting from a child and numerous appearances on Saturday Night Live, to see the street performer within him is no stretch. Gordon-Levitt takes this role and makes it his own, sure, but it’s still safe. It seems more like a small odd-job instead of an intense acting choice, but he runs with it. Many of the other actors take their roles similarly without a hitch, except for Ben Kingsley, who plays Petit’s mentor. Kingsley is in the movie for such a small amount of time and plays such an underdeveloped character in such an underdeveloped relationship that one can’t be entirely sure who this character is, and why he is in the movie, other than to add some obvious foreshadowing and older wisdom. It seems to be yet another role diminished by the editing room, and must be cast aside considering that this film is about the walk.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Walk. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Walk. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.
Considering the film is all about a walk, it would be terrible if the walk was anything but spectacular. Luckily, the walk is spectacular. A few twists and turns, a little bit of dangling, a dash of suspense, and once the experience ends, one cannot help but the smile. The act is only heightened with 3-D, which is used very well, gimmicks and all. For a film that relies so heavily on the climax, it needed to be perfect, and it is safe to say that the scene is breathtaking. Although, that’s all the film really has to say. There are clowns, stunts, and gimmicks, and at the end, it was just another day at the circus, or in this case the 3-D theater. It’s a shame that for a movie about a death-defying tightrope walk, the biggest criticism is how safe and relaxing it was.
Overall Grade: B-
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