A touching homage to the twin towers
This is a very polarizing film. On the one hand, it looks gorgeous. There's some great, albeit occasionally distracting, editing that makes this a truly unique viewing experience. The film is a phenomenal tribute to the World Trade Center, offering some very touching moments with the buildings, the last of which did leave me with a manly tear in my eye. (It basically went like this) But on the other hand, this film tells its story extremely poorly. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt's French accent was extremely overwhelming. I could not take his French side seriously. Sorry, Joey. So, let's dive into it, shall we?
Let's do the good stuff first. I want to remember the happy side of things first. While this film failed to treat a lot of aspects of it with respect, including its characters, one thing it did treat with incredible respect was the Twin Towers. There were homages to the towers all throughout the film, as almost every time they were in shot director Robert Zemeckis (yes, of Back to the Future fame) ensured that they were the stars of that shot. The music attached to these shots was also excellent. There's no doubt Zemeckis wanted to do this film for years, but he wanted to wait and give the Twin Towers a very respectful tribute. Which he accomplished. Then there was the editing! Zemeckis handiwork was all over this film, with quite a few unique bits of editing. It's really quite hard to describe, but this was easily the best part of the film, and I do expect an Oscar nomination for this department. Finally, the walk itself was incredibly well shot. Those 20 minutes of the 123 minute film almost made the other 100 minutes worth it. Almost.
Ok. Bad stuff time. Zemeckis has written many of his films, including Back to the Future and Polar Express. I know he can do better than what we got here, because this story is paper thin at best. None of the characters besides the screen-hogging JGL get anywhere near enough time to become unique characters, and by the end I even had trouble telling them apart! None of them even get to explain why they are putting up with JGL's obsession to walk between the towers, and there are several moments in this film where an ordinary human being would throw up his hands and say "Nope! I'm done helping you. Jerk." and yet that never happens in this film because.....? I don't know. I couldn't tell you because nobody besides JGL gets any screen time AT ALL. And let's talk about that, shall we? There are several excellent French actors in this film, and even a good American one in James Badge Dale. Ben Kingsley is in this too for like 10 minutes! So, why the HELL is Joseph Gordon-Levitt the lead?????? WHY???? There are plenty of great French actors out there, but you wanted to have a recognizable American actor. That's fine, but you didn't reign him in AT ALL when he shot for the fences and went for an "Oscar-worthy" performance. Look, I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His program HitRecord is AWESOME, and well worth your time if you're in to ordinary people displaying outstanding talent. It really is a unique show, and I know it's a major operation that is funded almost solely by JGL. The man is a class act. But here he's just......bad. No. He's terrible. He is screen-hogging to the max, and in very much the "I'm going for the Oscar" kind of way, not the "I'm just having a blast in this role" kind of way, like a crazy villain in a silly action flick. It really detracted from the overall experience.
In conclusion, I enjoyed parts of this film, while definitely hating other moments. Robert Zemeckis has been on something of a downward spiral lately. I enjoyed his last film, 2012's Flight, but there were definitely problems with it. And don't get me started on 2007's Beowulf. Forrest Gump and Back to the Future were a long time ago, but I do think Zemeckis has one home run ball left in him. What it will be I don't know, but it is certainly not 2015's The Walk.
The Critique: A paper-thin story and extremely distracting Joseph Gordon-Levitt keep this film from being as exceptional as it could have been, despite a very touching homage to the Twin Towers.
The Recommendation: I think it is worth checking out at some point on a dull night once it hits Netflix, but that's about it.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5/10 Average.
Oscar Talk: I do expect there to be an editing nomination for this film, but that's about it. Don't hold your breath, JGL.