Robert Zemeckis’ cornball cheese-fest mostly makes a mockery of the true-life story that also inspired the superlative 2008 documentary Man On Wire.
In essence, he Forrest Gumps the tale of Philippe Petit’s illegal wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and his godawful ‘wee wee’ French accent) narrating the story as a series of flashbacks (and even flashbacks within flashbacks) laden with oversaturated colours, vaselined lenses and a score so sickly sweet my ears got a toothache.
Some have hailed the climactic wire walk scene as worth the effort, and admittedly it’s the most effective use of 3D in some time (both in that section and throughout). But over-reliance on CGI, much of it poorly done (I’ve seen video games with more convincingly human character models), leaves an indelible trace of artificiality that broke my suspension of disbelief.
Moreover, despite the title, it’s not even a celebration of Petit’s daring stunt as much as it is a florid tribute to the Twin Towers, just shy of flashing ‘9/11’ on the screen every few minutes to make sure you’ve got it. Ripping from a real tragedy to imbue your sentimental schlock with emotional resonance? That’s some cheap huckster bullshit right there.