‘The Walk’ draws audiences out onto the wire

Biographical films seem to be a recent favorite of director Robert Zemeckis, and after the large success of his previous film “Flight,” he adds another hit to his already successful career with his newest release, “The Walk.”

The film depicts the larger-than-life story of performance artist, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), as he travels from France to New York in 1974 to hang his high-wire between the newly-constructed World Trade Center and walk between them.

The procession of events in “The Walk,” even though it’s real, still ends up being very clichéd and formulaic, only providing a few obstacles in the way of Petit and his accomplices’ plans. Granted, a couple of these obstacles are pretty large in difficulty, the film still leaps over them fairly quickly in order to proceed to the greatest and most death-defying sequence in the story: the walk on the wire.

The depiction of the walk is one of the most terrifying, suspenseful, and expertly-crafted sequences in film history. Zemeckis and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski maneuver the camera with astonishing skill and incredible style as audiences witness a fog that seems to only exist in Petit’s head, his decision to continue the walk (multiple times) while still on the wire and his close calls with death while up there.

The visual effects during said sequence, as well as throughout the film, are incredible. Though Petit’s narration is a bit unnecessary and makes the film feel a bit longer, it still is not only a nice little break in the action but also features some great effects in having Petit on the torch of the Statue of Liberty with the Twin Towers beautifully reflecting the sun in the background.

The visual effects are even more breathtaking to view in IMAX 3D. There’s an even greater feeling of vertigo and dread watching Petit on the wire in this format, as we feel even closer to being up there with him.

The performances also help bolster the film from being a run-of-the-mill biopic into a near-masterpiece, primarily in its lead. Gordon-Levitt gives a phenomenal performance as Petit, and his accent is an almost spot-on impression of the artist, perfectly capturing his gravelly French accent, especially as he fluently transitions from French to English in one sentence.

Overall, the only true issues with “The Walk” are a couple of slow moments leading up to the stunt and it taking a little too long to finally get to that fateful moment, but those are mostly forgotten thanks to incredible direction, stunning visual effects and great performances.