"The Walk" is the true story of French wire walker Philippe Petit, who set out to cross the void between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 shortly after they were built. The events were chronicled in the Oscar-winning documentary, "Man on Wire," but the big studio money and effects allow us to experience this stupendous story in a different way.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has the tough task of disappearing into the role of the Frenchman, affecting an accent, wearing a bad wig and bright blue contact lenses that don't look remotely real. That he's able to sell it and be convincing proves why he's one of the finest actors of his generation.
In many ways, "The Walk" plays like a caper movie with Petit scouting his location, making an elaborate plan, assembling a team of conspirators, and pulling off the stunt in secret.
The film's climax with the stunt itself is visually breathtaking, and one of the few times where 3D feels essential to the experience. Director Robert Zemeckis orchestrates this gorgeously, and indeed it's so effective there have been reports of people getting sick in screenings from the vertigo. How cool is that?
Unfortunately, Zemeckis also makes a lot of cheesy decisions with the script he co-wrote like having Petit narrate the film on-camera. What better way to remind us this is just a movie? I kept waiting for him to remind me to recycle my 3D glasses when the movie is done.
But the good outweighs the bad. I especially loved how the Twin Towers are made into characters in the film. "The Walk" is a movie that demands to be seen on the biggest screen you can find, not just downloaded to your phone in a few months. It's a stunner.