No, I haven’t seen Man on Wire. And actually, I hadn’t even seen a trailer for this movie. I’m just a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt so I wanted to make sure to catch this while it was still in theaters.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as French high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who wants to walk across a wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center, back in the 1970s. He recruits a team of folks to help him do this, which makes up for most of this movie. We have Sir Ben Kingsley as his high-wire instructor, Charlotte Le Bon as his somewhat love interest, and Clement Sibony as his photographer.
The movie is directed by Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away, Forrest Gump, all 3 Back to the Future movies, and The Polar Express).
I didn’t like this movie as much as most people, for some reason. As of now, it’s got a 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is far higher than I would rate it. I’ll do my best to explain why.
The only thing that really worked for me was the climax of the film, where Petit actually crosses the wire. This sequence had some great moments but I don’t know if this was worth the 2 hours leading up to it.
What doesn’t work?
Let me start with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His french accent distracted me the entire time. He didn’t disappear into the role, he just felt like he was freestyling a French accent. I also didn’t quite understand his character and why he had to do this. I didn’t feel or relate to this passion, so some of the key emotional moments fell flat.
The movie, with a 2 hour+ runtime, focuses 80% on assembling a crew to pull off this job, but every crew member we meet is relegated to being a prop. Even the female “romantic” lead played by Charlotte Le Bon is incredibly superficial and only there to do what Petit needs. They’re one dimensional characters. Even Petit is a one dimensional character who wants to walk on this high wire. We never see anything else from him.
Some of the computer effects are also really lackluster, which surprised me. There were a few scenes with blaringly obvious greenscreen and even CGI-created feet as he walked on various wires. Some of this occurred in the big climax, which really detracted from the sense of awe.
So I don’t understand how this is sitting at 85%. It’s a slow movie where one guy you can’t relate to, gathers a bunch of other one-dimensional characters, to pull off a feat that has some faulty CGI elements and is ultimately unsatisfying.
I was not impressed with The Walk. I’ve seen much better from both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Robert Zemeckis. This movie was just really superficial, was fairly uneventful until the climax, and featured some visual effects that really take you out of the experience. If this sounds interesting, the documentary about the real experience is streaming now on Netflix.