A tense and fulfilling climax hampered by uneven buildup is what The Walk boils down to. What’s in the title and poster is what everyone expects to see in the climax, but a film based on a true story needs the characters to back them up. Sadly, both cast and crew have fallen short in instilling gripping drama in the film’s boring lulls.
It’s disappointing to see weak actors fill the screen after witnessing The Martian’s brilliant cast just a week ago. Ben Kingsley (woefully underused) and Charlotte Le Bon are exceptions, but a film with an ensemble cast needs more than three good actors especially when one isn’t really seen that much.
As a film built to make audiences appreciate the beauty and artistry of Petit’s act, The Walk thankfully succeeds through and through. Joseph Gordon-Levitt almost single-handedly keeps the ship afloat as he gives his all. He is the center of it all, and posseses perhaps the greatest quality of this film: heart.
Philippe Petit is a colorful character, yet for the many times he dreams high and never gives up, doubts fill his mind if he can ever finish the things he has set in motion. Yes, there’s a bit of insanity in there and he’s not afraid to admit it, but there’s a big, beating heart at the center too.
And that heart never fades to the background, even during the titular walk, where everything never feels over the top. To pull it off, Robert Zemeckis and crew had to nail the visual effects and camerawork, and they did. The experience feels authentic, a solid whole presented intimately. Ambition doesn’t take priority over the execution and the film is better off with it.
It wasn’t made to make what is absurd to the naked eye seem practical, but rather to provide a new perspective on how reaching for the impossible can inspire and give us goosebumps. That something so absurd can reach so many on such a human level is an achievement on its own.