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The only thing missing from James Marsh's Oscar-winning documentary
Man on Wire
(2008) is actual footage of Frenchman Philippe Petit's gobsmacking 1974 tightrope walk between the recently built Twin Towers. In this caper-like version of events,
Back to the Future
director Robert Zemeckis calls on his special-effects savvy to bring that perilous perambulation to nerve-jangling life. Star Joseph Gordon-Levitt captures the joie de vivre and charisma of the likeable Petit (fluent Franglais and all), and looks every inch the daredevil wire-walker. Spielberg's
Catch Me If You Can
looms large as a stylish influence, but Zemeckis can't emulate the deft blend of breezy comedy and effortless excitement of that 2002 movie, although the re-creation of Petit's guerilla high-wire "coup" (traversing 140ft of heavy steel cable at 1,350ft in the air) remains a genuinely sweat-inducing experience (especially in 3D IMAX). Unfortunately, the set-up to "the artistic crime of the century", in which the ebullient Petit gathers assorted accomplices under the auspices of a crotchety Czech mentor (Ben Kingsley), is too light an appetiser to match the spectacular climax. Zemeckis aims high but this time Hollywood artifice just can't trump Marsh's inspirational treatment.
A French acrobat hatches an audacious scheme to carry out his most spectacular performance in 1974. With the aid of his circus mentor and an international team of helpers, he plans to tightrope walk between the towers of the World Trade Centre. Fact-based drama, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ben Kingsley.
Cast & Crew
Charlotte Le Bon
Jean-Pierre / JP
James Badge Dale
Jeff / Jean-François
Sergio Di Zio
English / French
Swearing, brief nudity
DVD and Blu-ray
2 Oct 2015
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