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The Walk (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 122 minutes.

OK for children.

While this is a relatively faithful retelling of Philippe Petit's high wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974, it is far too long. Dragging considerably, it still presents exceptional visual effects and wonderful cinematography. It is so realistic that people with a fear of heights will have a hard time sitting through it.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, who also has a writing credit on the script with Christopher Browne based on Petit’s book “To Reach the Clouds,” it is further burdened by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s feigned French accent, sounding more like Pepé Le Pew than Maurice Chevalier.

But the biggest distraction is that it takes an extremely slow, uninvolving, 90 minutes for Petit to round up his team and get to the top of the towers. Even though everyone knows that the walk was successful, still his walk on the high wire at 1,350 feet above the streets of New York City is stressful to watch. This is due to the exceptional cinematography and CGI that is enormously realistic. My heels were tickling throughout the last half hour.

But my heels tickled in the documentary Man on Wire (2008), which told the same story in 28 fewer minutes, and showed the real Petit and his real teammates through interviews and archival footage, and showed the real walk. It doesn’t have the amazing cinematography, but it’s a much better movie.