Movie Review: The Walk

Very simply: If your afraid of heights this is not a movie you should see and definitely not in IMAX 3D, which is how I saw this amazing film.

There is no doubt that the greatest and most courageous stunt of all time will always be Philippe Petit’s August 6th 1974 walk across the twin towers. Because of the scale and the odds of success this stunt can never be topped and is the most insane and dangerous single human act anybody has ever attempted. When you see this movie you at first cannot believe that the logistical problems of firing a bow and arrow across the towers and then anchoring a 1 inch wire and and its supporting wires across the World Trade Center were overcome. The men in Philippe’s crew were able to work all night to accomplish the anchoring of this wire on both sides to make sure it was going to be able to withstand a 160 pound man walking across it for a long period of time.

One strange scene in this movie which really made no sense is when the wire was first shot across the one tower to the other and Philippe could not find it, he took off all his cloths hoping that while nude he could somehow better find the thin wire in the dark. Perhaps because he was so overwhelmed with fear of dying that Philippe thought that being naked would be enable him to find the wire, but who will ever know other than Philippe himself? The wire was finally found at the outer edge of the building and after a number of setbacks and the strange appearance of a business man who arrived at the top of the observation deck only to just turn around and leave right before the walk began, the wire was assembled and the walk started at about 6:30 AM on August 6th 1974.

While its understandable that some people do not have any fear of heights, what is not understandable is that Philippe Petit had no fear of death and no fear that a strong wind might knock him off the wire along with any number of mishaps, including the failure of the wire which almost happened during this walk. The problem with a potential gust of wind was never discussed during this movie and for me that should have been mentioned as the #1 potential disaster that could have easily caused Philippe’s death.

What was most agonizing about watching the end of this movie was Philippe’s continuing to turn around to avoid the police and walk to the other tower about 4 times over which included kneeling down on the wire and at one point even laying down on his back. Philippe did this knowing that one of the supporting cables had a join clamp that was installed upside down, greatly increasing the odds of a tragic fall. Amazingly Philippe was able to stand up again on the wire, taking risk after risk until he finally surrendered to the police. His sentence was very simply to do a wire walk for some kids in Central Park and no prison term.

During the wire walk the NYC police stupidly flew a helicopter over Philippe yelling at him with a megaphone to get off of the wire never seeming to realize that the wind caused by the helicopter blades could have easily knocked Philippe off the wire and killed him. This could be one of the stupidest single acts the NYC Police ever did in their entire history. In the end the miracle walk was successful and Philippe was given a “forever” ticket to the observation deck, which considering the demise of the towers was a rather poignant moment towards the end of this movie. How the director Robert Zemeckis filmed the many scenes of the twin towers given that the they are now long gone, even considering the power of computer movie making is very impressive and might just win this movie an academy award for special effects. The actor who played Philippe in this movie Joseph Gordon-Levitt also did a very good job with this role and could be nominated for an academy award as well.

I very highly recommend this movie.

The Walk IMDB