The Walk – Christian Movie Review
This Film Amazed Me
Robert Zemeckis, the director of the Back to the Future films, “Forrest Gump,” “Cast Away,” and “Polar Express” is back with another showstopper called “The Walk.” It tells the true story of high-wire artist Philipp Petit who, in 1974, devised a plan to sneak into the Twin Towers (the World Trade Center) in New York and complete a high-wire walk with no safety harness between the two iconic towers.
His idea was completely insane. And yet he — and his merry band of accomplices — went for it.
This film tells his story.
In a moment I’ll explain why certain elements of this film — starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley — are such a stunning showstopper and why you do not want to miss this film’s high-wire scenes as well as many of its artistic scenes in the exposition. But first, here is the Parental Guidance content to be aware of…
Parental Guidance Content at a Glance for this PG rated film…
Sexual Content/Nudity/Themes of Sexuality and Romance: A man’s buttocks are seen after he strips during preparation for a high-wire attempt. A man gets out of bed with his girlfriend without wearing any clothes (though no nudity is seen).
Violence/Gore/Scary Content: No fighting or gore in this movie. I won’t say if there’s any violence related to characters falling off wires (don’t want to give any spoilers), but the film is rated PG so even if there are falls there would be no gore.
Language: One a-word, a printed “Bastard” printed on-screen, and a few uses of “piss” and its variations.
Entertainment Value and Film Craft
The arch of this movie is unlike any movie I’ve seen. With a charming retro-French introduction and backstory that nimbly transitions into the frantic finesse of an Ocean’s 11-styled heist, “The Walk” works itself up into a frenzy of activity toward the climactic point of the story, and then, suddenly, it all stops, it all freezes — just perfect stillness, like floating on a glass sea. It might be the only movie where the climax is not some bombastic explosion of special effects and loud orchestra (for action movies) or tears, betrayal, and screaming (in dramatic movies) or a maddeningly hilarious intersection of hijinks and heartwarming mishaps (comedies and RomComs). No, the climax of “The Walk” is the most peaceful period of the film — while still retaining the emotional heft of a narrative climax — and somehow it transcends the whole movie experience. After I walked out I didn’t feel like I had finished seeing a movie, I felt like I had finished a deeply satisfying walk through the stratosphere above the world.
Themes of Redemption, Speculation about the Film’s Worldview
The image of a man walking without a harness on a wire a quarter mile above the earth between two of the largest buildings in the world might be the perfect artistic archetype — the perfect artistic symbol. Anyone, most likely, could inject their lives into that symbol and pull personal meaning out of it. For the soldier, the wire symbolizes the thin margin between life and death on the battlefield, yet he must still press on and walk to the other side.
For the person of the faith, it could symbolize the harrowing journey through their ministry calling that sometimes feels insane but in reality there is Someone huge supporting you every step of the way through the terrifying heights. As Philipp Petit said in the film, “I feel the wire supporting me, and the towers supporting the wire.” When he finally stood on the wire, he did not feel unstable. He could feel the massive size and power of two enormous towers and a 450-pound cable supporting him. He felt confidence. A person of faith, when she steps out with sincere faith into her calling, will feel the same power of something (Someone) enormous upholding her.
But the artistic symbol of the Twin Towers high-wire walk could be harnessed by just about any worldview — probably even the ones with which you disagree. The film presents an artistic symbol as enormous as the Twin Towers themselves with enough space for thousands of people to rent and live in as long as they choose.
So I wouldn’t say this film presents any specific worldview. What it does present, however, is the admirable devotion of a group of a people to one man’s vision. It presents a portrait of wildly persistent courage. And all of it coalesces into one of the great artistic feats of the 20th Century. The walk itself was a work of art, and not only does this film immerse you into the hair-raising glory of the walk itself, but it gives you a fascinating picture of the events surrounding the walk.
It also gives a deeply moving — but also incredibly subtle — tribute to tragedy of 9/11. In one scene a trick of the eye makes the Twin Towers appear to be two candles slowly dimming, like a prayer vigil coming to an end.
Conclusion: ‘The Walk’ Will Stay With You Long After It Ends
I already want to see this movie again. That’s all there is to it. And it’s not often that you get a movie of this caliber that is also PG — a fantastic opportunity for a family outing. (Though check the Parental Guidance section before taking the very young ones.)
My rating for “The Walk”: [usr 8] (See my notes below on the rating scale.)
[Note: if you’re a fan of C.S. Lewis, please check out my new blog Stabs of Joy or my podcast Aslan’s Paw. Both seek to crack open the surprising treasures of Christian belief — the things that Western society has forgotten, ignored, or never encountered — with the help of logic, literature, film, music, and one very unsafe Lion.]
Note about my rating system for the movie’s film craft and entertainment value:
1 star = one of the worst movies ever made (the stuff of bad movie legends), and it usually (not always) has below 10% on Rotten Tomatoes
2-3 stars = a mostly bad movie that has a handful of nice moments; it usually falls between 10-30% on Rotten Tomatoes
4-6 stars = a decent movie with some flaws, overall. Four stars mean its flaws outweigh the good. Five stars mean equal good, equal bad. Six stars mean it’s a fairly good movie, with some great moments even, that outweigh a few flaws. A 4-6 star rating usually means it falls between 30-59% on Rotten Tomatoes (but not always).
7-9 stars = a rare rating reserved only for the best movies of that year; and a film must have a Fresh Tomato rating (60% or higher) on Rotten Tomatoes to be given 7 stars or higher, with a few exceptions (if
I strongly disagree with the critics).
10 stars = one of the best films of all time, right up there with the all-time greats (i.e. Casablanca, The African Queen, Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode IV, Indiana Jones, etc.).
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