Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 31
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 31
  3. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 100
    Man on Wire is about the vanquishing of the towers by bravery and joy, not by terrorism.
  2. The film itself is perfectly poised between artistry and audacity. It's beautiful.
  3. Reviewed by: Reyhan Harmanci
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The sight is magical and heartbreaking in equal measure. Look, the movie says: Where so many would fall, a man walks on air.
  5. The gorgeous music includes Ralph Vaughan Williams' wafting tone poem ''The Lark Ascending'' -- apt in describing an artist who might well be part bird.
  6. 100
    One of the favorite sayings of journalists and politicians is "You don't want to see how the sausage is made." Marsh's movie says you do want to see how a miracle is made, even if the details can be just as unsavory.
  7. 100
    This is a police procedural, if you will, about what's been called the artistic crime of the century.
  8. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    One of the most wildly entertaining docs of recent years.
  9. James Marsh's documentary raises the bar for the genre to skyscraper height.
  10. 100
    Thanks to Marsh's sensitive storytelling, Man on Wire manages to put Petit's performance into another, more ineffable realm: What began as a caper turned into poetry, and poetry became a prayer.
  11. 91
    Takes on the air of a heist film as the preparations proceed, and even knowing the outcome, tension still remains.
  12. An engrossing study in abnormal psychology, an inspirational drama that tells us a determined man really can do anything his mind can envision and is the first film that plays on what could become a phenomenon of the new millennium: World Trade Center nostalgia.
  13. Petit, by the way, is still very much alive and spry. I saw him at a screening of the film at the Sundance Film Festival where he spoke to the audience afterwards. On his way up to the podium, he tripped.
  14. 90
    Thorough, understated and altogether enthralling documentary.
  15. 89
    Hauntingly beautiful film.
  16. 88
    As suspenseful as a full-blown thriller.
  17. 88
    Engrossing and exhilarating documentary.
  18. He had the fearlessness of a 104-story man and something more than a daredevil's brass.
  19. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The film runs 95 minutes, and you'll be holding your breath for most of them.
  20. Reviewed by: Kamal AL-Solaylee
    Marsh's most remarkable directorial achievement, however, is preserving the original sense of amazement and awe when watching historical footage and still photographs of Petit walking that tightrope up in the sky.
  21. Wallenda once said, "Life is being on the wire; everything else is just waiting." This film makes that motto ring true.
  22. History has made his midair stroll meaningful, but the film shows how even then, everyone - from Petit to his accomplices to the cops who were waiting for him atop the North Tower - recognized the stunt's crazy poetry.
  23. Reviewed by: Margot Gerber
    Pre the events of 9/11, the film might have simply been an entertaining, high risk tale of a death-defying feat related in both interviews, archival footage and photos and Marsh's usual meticulous and creative re-enactment vignettes. Post 9/11 you find yourself marveling that a man in far away France became smitten with the twin towers long before they became the target of terrorist attacks.
  24. 80
    Speaking as one New Yorker who lived through 9/11 and saw this film with a packed house of natives at its Tribeca Film Festival premiere, I experienced Man on Wire as an almost mystical incantation.
  25. The most miraculous thing about Man on Wire is not the physical feat itself, 1,350 feet above the ground, but that as you watch it, the era gone, the World Trade Center gone, the movie feels as if it's in the present tense. That nutty existentialist acrobat pulled it off. For an instant, he froze time.
  26. Reviewed by: Anthony Kaufman
    While largely lighthearted, Petit's walk and Marsh's film take on new meaning post-9/11. Man on Wire never mentions the events of that day, but the Trade Center's collapse continues to weigh on Petit, as if its destruction was every bit as tragic as the human lives lost that day.
  27. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Man on Wire brings back a time when the towers were still symbols of aspiration and possibility.
  28. 75
    A fascinating time capsule: a combination of talking-head interviews, actual footage, and re-creations that evokes a kinder, gentler world and provides insight into one of the most audacious stunts of the 20th century.
  29. Reviewed by: Priya Jain
    Much of this story is indeed entertaining: there's a tone of lighthearted mischievousness to the plotting and scheming of an illegal act that is essentially harmless.
  30. 70
    In archival photos Petit seems to float between the towers, a tiny black figure against a vivid blue sky; the images are all the more poignant for the unstated fact that Petit is still around when the buildings aren't.
  31. 67
    It's a story worth telling, yes--but after 90 minutes, it's hard not to wonder if the storyteller can talk about anything else.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 94 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 34
  2. Negative: 4 out of 34
  1. Oct 15, 2011
    "Man On Wire" is a documentary filled with joy and tension. It makes you feel as you are the characters and in the situation they are experiencing. The film's light pace also doesn't disappoint other movie geeks who expect fast ones. A amusing documentary in general that you might want to see. Full Review »
  2. Apr 14, 2012
    It's about a man's pursuit of his dream to walk on a tight rope between the World Trade Center towers. The story and characters are compelling enough on their own. But Marsh matches visuals to music in a way that makes this story more a work of art than a retelling. This movie owned me the first time I saw it. And I watch it again from time to time to remind myself how to dream. Full Review »
  3. RichardS
    Feb 26, 2009
    I don't understand why people like this movie at all. The best I can think of is that it involves some kind of symbolic recoding of the WTC event of 2001. I thought the movie was overwrought and that everyone in it seemed stupid. I was not surprised when one of the accomplices said his memory was foggy because he used to smoke too much pot; they all talk like pot-heads. This film is like an exercise in mind control; you have these lunatics histrionically telling you how amazed you're supposed to be and then they don't give you anything to be amazed at. If the tone had been less strident, it would have been a better film. In fact, I feel that the filmmaker's tendency to blow up every detail out of proportion deflates any value that might be inherent in this dumb story. Full Review »