Review by Dan Skip Allen
You had to be hiding under a rock where I come from, Lowell, Massachusetts, forty-five minutes north of Boston, if you didn't hear about the forced busing in the greater Boston School District in the mid-1970s. This situation was a powder keg in a racially charged Boston. South Boston was prominently a white Irish community, and Roxbury was a predominantly Black community. Desegregation finally hit Boston. The Walk depicts these events to some degree.
The Walk tells the story of the Boston forced busing situation from the point of view of a few families: the kids, some police officers, a paramedic, and some local gangsters. Of course, the white kids use language I won't utter in this review, but we all know what words I'm talking about. The Black kids are fine except when quoting Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and the Black Panthers. The parents are the ones with their heads on their shoulders. Terrence Howard, a Paramedic, and Justin Chatwin, a Police Officer, know what this whole powder keg could mean in the greater context of the final rights movement.
Daniel Adams, the director and half of the writing team with George Powell, give this story a good try. If this material were in the hands of someone like Ben Affleck as director and Matt Damon and Affleck as the screenplay writers, it would have had a better chance of being a more successful film. The filmmakers have got a lot of things right in this film, but a few things were so overwhelmingly bad I couldn't get over them. One of them is that this film has a glossiness that is entirely out of place. The sheen completely threw me off. This film used the wrong cameras or filters to film this movie. It should have had a more grainy feeling and look to it. Also, it seemed that the accents were a little forced, with everyone extending their As and rolling their Rs
The things this film did get right were all of the clothes, cars, and hairstyles. The production value is on point throughout the film. It would have been better if there were some grime and a little dirt on the streets, houses, and cars. The language was dirtier than the actual film was. That is a significant problem. Maybe the budget had to do with that, which is 35 million. Bigger-name directors and even actors may have made this film a priority, and larger studios might have given them more money to make. It sure as heck needed it.
The cast was solid for the budget they had to make the film with. That being said, Malcolm McDowell and Jeremy Piven both signed on to this project, so they must have seen something in it. They both play one-note gangsters with a racist bent to them. The filmmakers had to have somebody as the villain of the film. Even though it says it's based on true events at the beginning, that could mean anything. A scroll of photos of some actual civil rights events and dates was a nice added touch at the beginning to let viewers know what kind of film this really is.
The Walk had some things going for it, but it seems to me that a bigger budget and more prominent talent attached to it would have helped give it a better chance of succeeding. The cast was fine with the younger than girls, Katie Douglas, Lovie Somone, and Justin Chatwin being the standouts. The production value of the film was also pretty good. It mostly looked like it took place in this era. The film lens or a better camera would have made it a better-looking film. The glossy cleanliness that the film had completely threw me out of it. Coming from this place and growing up in this area, I wanted to like this film and get behind all of these aspects, but I just couldn't in the end.
The Walk is now in theaters and on VOD.