“The Walk” Looks For An Audience To ‘Ang It's Uire” On

By Scott Kurland

Film: The Walk
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, and Sir Ben Kingsley
Rated: PG
Director: Robert Zemeckis

There appears to be a new trend among filmmakers. First, there were too many sequels. Then there were too many remakes. Now the big trend is turning documentaries into films. For some reason; interviews and real life footage don’t cut it anymore. Studios feel like they need to take an everyman’s story and put a big named actor in the lead. This week’s film “The Walk” is based on the incredible true story of Philippe Petit who walked on a tight rope between the twin towers in 1974. “The Walk” is based on the documentary “Man On A Wire”, but does this transition well enough from documented film to narrative story telling? Well that’s what we’re going to find out, shall we?

“The Walk” is the true story of Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and how he staged a peaceful coup d’etat in 1974 using the nearly completed World Trade Center.  Petit hung a high wire tight rope between the twin towers and walked it many times before being arrested by the police for trespassing. Apparently it’s a crime to break into a build, hang a wire and dangle yourself one hundred and ten stories above New York….who knew? Petit’s story is about how he assembled a rag tag crew to help him get his plan off the ground. 

The story itself is very simple and anyone can understand it. I think that’s why they down played all the suspense and tension, and turned it into a children’s film. That’s right “The Walk” is a kid’s movie, with the simple theme of living your dreams at it’s heart. I think that might be why this film is crashing at the box office. It wasn’t marketed in the usual places for kids. Sony didn’t buy ad space on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. They also didn’t advertise it on NBC, CBS, or ABC. No child knew this film was coming out. Poor marketing strikes again and that’s a real shame. Turning “Man On A Wire”, which is an incredibly gritty documentary into a live your dreams story of hope is inspired. Zemeckis does an excellent job adding his patented “Forrest Gump” whimsy to this film; but there’s one problem. After awhile seeing the twin towers on screen made me miss them, and then I got incredibly depressed because they aren’t there anymore.

After awhile “The Walk” stopped being a time capsule film, and became a cruel reminder of something great we lost. There’s two more problems I had with “The Walk”. The first being Zemeckis’ story telling. Zemeckis opens the film with Joseph Gordon-Levitt standing on the statue of liberty’s torch and recounting his journey. The film would have been better if we had a first person account and not a play-by-play. The second problem I had was that this film was trying too hard to be like Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”. Zemeckis’ genius is unquestionable, but there were many times I found this film eerily too similar to Scorsese’s magnum opus. They both star Ben Kingsley in supporting roles, and I don’t think that was an accident. However, as a whole film “The Walk” does a good enough job for me to recommend it.

This film belongs to Joseph Gordon-Levittthere’s no question about it.He’s so good,  I hardly remembered the supporting roles because I was too focused on Gordon-Levitt every time he said, “I was always looking Fer A Place To Ang Mi Uire” in that thick French accident. If I didn’t realize that this was suppose to be a children’s film, I’d hate that French accent. Gordon-Levitt’s voice is a combination of French Batman and Globey the Globe from “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”. That may sound like a jab, but I’m not saying it to be cruel. Gordon-Levitt is the heart and soul of this film and his performance might not be Oscar worthy but he does carry the movie well on his shoulders.

“The Walk” isn’t going to win many awards except  maybe for visuals. The story is a decent one, and not counting it’s flaws there is a good message for children, “never give up on your dreams”.  I’m giving “The Walk” a slight recommendation I was entranced when I first saw the movie. However, I later remembered all the things I didn’t like. A great film can make you forget about all of it’s poor choices. “The Walk” failed to do that. I did like the film’s message and I really got a kick out of Gordon-Levitt’s thick French accent. So I’m giving this a slight recommend, it’s a good matinee film. I wouldn’t pay full price and I urge you to take your kids because the message is so important.

scott kurlandComment