People ask me “Why do you risk death?” For me, this is life.

In 1974, French high-wire artist Philippe Petit famously walked across the Twin Towers of New York City on nothing but a tightrope. This year, the act is re-enacted in spectacular 3D in the biographical drama film The Walk. So if you’re afraid of heights, this will be the movie equivalent to riding a rollercoaster. Trust me, it’s almost as thrilling.

American actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL) stars as Petit, and the first noticeable thing is JGL speaking French with a standard accent! The Walk begins from Petit’s beginnings as a young man where he picked up the art, and leads to the very day that Petit executes his walk. To explain the journey, Petit narrates the film atop the Statue of Liberty overlooking the Twin Towers. Simply put, JGL puts on a very convincing performance as both a Frenchman and a high-wire artist in the film.

As Petit discovers his passion for tightrope walking, he befriends several people along the way – fellow female street performer Annie Allix (Charlotte Le Bon), whom he would have a romantic relationship with, and another professional high-wire artist Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) who would become his mentor. They soon become his “accomplices” as he sets off his mission to achieve the feat, and along the way he would gather more people who support his vision.

Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis, the filmmaker behind 1994’s Forrest Gump, helms The Walk. Suffice to say, Zemeckis handles the film’s dramatic pacing with expertise. Petit moves from Paris to New York in pursuit of his dream as his entourage follows suit, and it’s the scenes in New York where most of the film’s humour is derived from.

While the plot is meticulously developed, the characters in Petit’s group are not as elaborate. Petit’s girlfriend, Annie, at times serves merely as a sidekick rather than a serious love interest. As for his mentor Papa Rudy, Kingsley portrays an old-timer with high hopes for the young Petit. Ultimately, much of the screen time is devoted to Petit as he battles safety against a ridiculously ambitious idea.

As Petit goes about his performance, he is at 400 metres above the ground. At that height, Zemeckis makes full use of the environment to give audiences a visual awe – a sight made better in none other than 3D. While the sequence is executed at a snail’s pace, the suspense may make one burst in sweat for fear of Petit’s safety. In other words, there isn’t a dull moment.

The Walk is now showing in theatres.

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama
Running time: 123 minutes
Rating: 4/5

This film was reviewed in IMAX 3D