Story

The Walk is based on true events. It begins with Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon- Levitt) standing on top of the Statue of Liberty telling the audience via a series of flashbacks the story of what led him to walk a highwire between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre. The wire was a distance of 140 feet at a height of 110 stories.

As a young boy Philippe sneaks into the circus. Fascinated by the circus’s highwire performers, he sets up his own tightrope in his backyard. A few years later, Philippe sneaks back into the circus to try walking a real highwire and is caught by highwire master, Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley). After some fast talking and impromptu juggling, Philippe convinces Papa Rudy to teach him the secrets of walking the wire. He begins to live as a street performer, riding a unicycle, juggling and walking a rope tied between trees.

One day Philippe reads a magazine article about the construction of the twin towers. It immediately becomes his dream to walk a highwire between these buildings.

Philippe, his girlfriend Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), photographer/archer Jean-Louis (Clement Sibony) and algebra teacher Jeff (Jean-Francois), who has a fear of heights, travel to New York for their first look at the twin towers. They set the date for his walk as 6 August 1974 and call this day the ‘Coup’. With the help of four Americans, they put Philippe’s plan into action.

Themes

Death-defying and illegal stunts; risk taking; friendship and teamwork

Violence

The Walk has some violence. For example:

  • Several French police officers chase a street performer riding a monocycle through crowded city streets. 
  • A man holding a shovel in a threatening way chases a teenage boy until the boy falls over. The boy isn’t hurt.
  • Several scenes show loud and heated arguments.
  • After performing an illegal stunt, a street performer is forced to the ground by police. He’s handcuffed and taken away.
  • A man walks onto the roof of a tall building, where two other men are standing. One of the men picks up a metal pipe and stares at the first man, who after a minute turns around and walks away. The friend of the man holding the pipe asks what he intended to do with it. The man silently drops the pipe.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Walk has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • There are several tense scenes of highwire walking, including some which involve falls and near falls. The scenes of the final walk are very tense. In his narration, Philippe talks about the possibility of falling to his death with only three steps to go. 
  • On a construction site, Philippe steps on a nail, which pierces his foot. He hops on one foot shouting in pain, and we see the tip of the nail sticking out of the top of his shoe. There’s a small amount of blood. Later blood from this injury seeps through his highwire slipper while he’s on the wire.
  • In one perilous scene two men straddle a pole suspended over an elevator shaft hundreds of metres above the ground. There’s an imagined scene in which one of the men falls off the pole and disappears out of sight down the shaft.

From 5-8
The movie’s final 30 minutes show the perilous walk between the twin towers. Children in this age group might find this part of the movie too intense.

From 8-13
The movie’s final 30 minutes show the perilous walk between the twin towers. Children in this age group might find this part of the movie too intense.

Over 13
Some younger children in this age group might find the scenes of the twin towers walk too intense.

Sexual references

The Walk has some sexual references. For example, a man tells another man that he wants to see him in his ‘birthday suit’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Walk shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters smoke cigarettes. 
  • Characters drinks socially.
  • Characters smoke marijuana.
  • Someone says that a sleeping guard might be on drugs.

Nudity and sexual activity

The Walk shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • A man and woman kiss passionately.
  • One scene shows a man and woman sleeping together in a bed. The man gets out of bed naked, and we see his naked torso and upper buttocks. 
  • A naked man walks and jumps around on a rooftop. He is shown from a distance with obscured genitals.

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

The Walk has some low to medium-level coarse language and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Walk is an adventure drama based on real events and targeting teenagers and adults. It’s likely to be entertaining and highly enjoyable for this age group. The intense final 30 minutes will have audiences on the edge of their seats. 

These final scenes might be too intense for younger viewers, though, and you might also be concerned about the movie’s substance use and coarse language. For these reasons, we don’t recommend The Walk for children under 12 years, and we do recommend parental guidance for children aged 12-14 years.

The main message from this movie is that you should follow your dreams no matter how ridiculous, absurd or seemingly impossible.

You could talk with your children about the possible real-life consequences of perilous and illegal risk-taking like Philippe’s. What are the real-life consequences of stunts that go wrong, and what are the implications for people and their loved ones when things go wrong?