***MAJOR SPOILERS as usual…nothing about the actual movie i’m reviewing, per say, but Fernando gets mad at me for not slapping a disclaimer on my references to other movies and TV shows. so if you don’t want to read anything about…say…”Lost,” turn back now.***

in this excellent sequel to 2004’s “Man on Fire,” Creasy manages to evade the Mexican mob, get stitched up, and find his way back into the loving arms of Pita. the two move to Baltimore and Creasy joins the BPD’s Major Crimes Unit. the whirlwind love affair, however, ends in tragedy; Creasy is arrested for faking serial killings and is sent to jail. inside, he gets too talky and, in a twist of irony, he is set on fire.

no, no…

see, my original title for this review was derivative of “Not Penny’s Boat,” the poignant words Charlie uses in his dying moments to warn Desmond that a rescue boat isn’t what it seems. on “Lost,” a sign with a straightforward statement like that manages to have a couple meanings: once one realizes it’s not Penny’s (Desmond’s old flame) boat, then whose is it? and what danger does that signify? or is Charlie just a ponce with a hand cramp who forgot to include “…it’s the Coast Guard” in his last words? of course, fans know now what that message meant….anyway, where was i? see, i wanted to title this review “Not Denzel’s Movie” because of the similarity and my sophomoric amusement with the title. but, it would have required an explanation. wait…

fuck it, moving on…

Man on Wire

(2008, Dir. James Marsh)

“Man on Wire” refers to the brief note scribbled by an NYPD officer on the arrest papers of Philippe Petit on August 7, 1974, after the Frenchman walked a high wire strung between the north and south towers of the recently completed World Trade Center. Petit, an accomplished bohemian circus performer, had made news by doing similar stunts between the steeples of Notre Dame and the trusses of Sydney Harbor Bridge, but the WTC adventure gained him fame and admiration, as well as notoriety with New York law enforcement.

the fact is that the playful acrobat, Petit, committed major felonies to fulfill his dreams of walking a wire atop the highest building on earth at the time. breaking in, entering restricted areas, hiding from security, tying on over a thousand dollars worth of wires and anchors, and, of course, engaging in an act most would label “suicide” are just a few of his crimes. suicide, after all, is illegal. but when one considers how far they’d go to fulfill their dreams, Petit’s stunt is rather, well, beautiful. he wasn’t directly causing any danger to the structure or other people, making his crime endearing as an example of “when you want something, nothing is impossible.”

the documentary is the most engaging and fun experience i’ve had since “The King of Kong” and “The Aristocrats.” like those two docs, “Man on Wire” does not have a social or political agenda to absorb. it is simple entertainment. you observe the subject, follow a story, and come away feeling happy. the footage and pictures of Petit laying precariously a quarter mile above earth is at once scary and utterly amazing to behold. if you think it’s impossible to be awed by a movie these days, i present you with the unfiltered and unsafe reality captured in “Man on Wire.”

if that wasn’t enough, the documentary’s impact hits another level post-September 11th. unlike depictions of the horrors that occurred at and to the World Trade Center since 1993, this whimsical event gives a glory and magic to the buildings as the backdrop to human endeavor. this was a sign that supported the WTC’s goal of being a positive symbol for change the world over. the beautiful sentiment boils below the surface of the movie, even though you might not pick up on it while you delve into childlike glee.

Petit’s personality only helps matters, as he acts like a crazy man between witty remarks and broken English. this is the black sheep of the family. this is the odd cousin. this is one of Santa’s little helpers all grown up. and the friends and family interviewed fill out a picture of a determined and unstable individual you just want to follow to see what he does next.

the inspiring and fun story has some bittersweet aspects that make you appreciate it for maybe being the first fantasy documentary, a perfect blend of realistic underpinnings and dreams come true.

Grade: A

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