Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Walk

Movie Name: The Walk
Year of Release: 2015
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, Clement Sibony, Cesar Domboy, Steve Valentine, Ben Schwartz, Benedict Samuel, Mark Camacho
Genre: Drama, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis & Review:
Academy award winning director Robert Zemeckis is back, following the successful "Flight". The film is an adaptation of the book by Philippe Petit, which details the incredible feat that Petit executed in 1974, when he walked on a wire between the twin towers in New York (and this feat was also the target of the James Marsh documentary "Man on a Wire" which won the Oscar in 2008). The film uses Petit as a direct narrator for the story, introducing us to the character in Paris, when he's a struggling acrobat, living from live performances on the street. That's how he meets his companion Annie, to whom he confides the dream of walking across the twin towers in New York. Before that however, he attempts and succeeds a high wire act at Notre Dame Cathedral, which lands him in trouble with the authorities. Finding a team of accomplices in Paris, Petit soon devises a scheme to make "Le Coup" work.
Robert Zemeckis is one of the most successful directors in Hollywood of the past 4 decades. He has created films that blend a sense of wonder with an acute perception of how technology empowers directors to realize their vision - that has happened with some of his most accomplished films such as "Who's Framing Roger Rabbit", "Back to the Future", "Forrest Gump" and "Contact". "The Walk" has a fantastic story as a premise - a man overcoming a challenge that is towering and almost impossible. Sadly though, Zemeckis presents the story in a way that feels too glossy, overproduced and frankly borderline tasteless (the vignettes with Petit addressing the camera directly on the Statue of the Liberty are at best poorly conceived and at worst tacky). Where the film does redeem itself is in the depiction of the stunt that Petit and his accomplices put together: the process and the recreation of the feat is engaging, revealing a dynamic that sorely lacks in the remainder of the film. The cast does what it can with underwritten parts, with the talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Petit as an obsessed man with a dream (and a bad wig it seems), while Ben Kingsley once again plays the older voice of reason. The score from Alan Silvestri is wonderful, as is the cinematography from Darius Wolski (who also worked on Ridley Scott's "The Martian"). A somewhat failed effort from a talented film maker.