It is 1973, and starting off as a street entertainer in his native France, Petit (Gordon-Levitt) finds that his greatest release is when he walks a high wire between the two towers of Notre Dame before being carted off by the gendarmes. He then spots the already under construction World Trade Centre towers and decides that he must walk between them.
Considering the North and South towers were 110 storeys high, this was an incredibly insane idea, but one that Petit was single-mindedly determined to undertake. So he travels to New York with his accomplices and sets into motion a plan to complete the once in a lifetime experience. Going against most of the wishes of his mentor, Papa Rudy (Kingsley), he and his group set a date and get the wheels in motion.
The day arrives and we get to see exactly how this amazing feat was accomplished, from set up to execution, although as the towers were still being completed and the early ‘70s were not as concerned with terrorism as we are today, this doesn’t seem like it was too difficult. Instead the fact that this was done in real life is a lot more incredible.
The film itself is as stunning as the stunt was absurd. This is probably some of the best and most beautiful use of 3D so far and we have director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) to thank for that. Honestly, some of the shots before and during the wire walk are nothing short of vertigo-inducing - even if you don’t suffer from it. Even if you watch this in 2D, you’re sure to want to keep your feet squarely on the floor.
Granted, some of the accents are weak at times, Kingsley being the main culprit here, but that’s not what we are here for. Like Petit’s life, we are here for the spectacle and it is served up to us in spades.
Without banging a drum, the film manages to serve as a salute to the Twin Towers themselves as much as it celebrates the achievements of the crazy Frenchman who took on one of the biggest daredevil stunts of all time.
Simply a sublime visual treat.
THE WALK / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: ROBERT ZEMECKIS / SCREENPLAY: ROBERT ZEMECKIS, CHRISTOPHER BROWNE / STARRING: JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, SIR BEN KINGSLEY, CHARLOTTE LE BON, JAMES BADGE DALE, BEN SCHWARTZ / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 1ST