Metascore
59

Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 33
  2. Negative: 2 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Apr 10, 2014
    100
    Wrenching, profound and beautifully made, The Railway Man is one of the stunning don’t-miss surprises of the still-young 2014.
  2. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    Apr 10, 2014
    90
    The Railway Man is an impressively crafted, skillfully acted, highly absorbing journey into a dark corner of world history.
  3. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Apr 24, 2014
    80
    The movie boasts a tricky structure, but director Jonathan Teplitzky ("Burning Man") does an expert job of sewing together the World War II moments with sequences set in the '80s.
  4. Reviewed by: Catherine Shoard
    Sep 12, 2013
    80
    From time to time, the script contextualises a little clumsily...but the playing and pacing are terrific.
  5. Reviewed by: David Hiltbrand
    Apr 25, 2014
    75
    Lean's classic is something of a picnic compared to The Railway Man, which contains horrific scenes of torture.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Apr 18, 2014
    75
    For such a torment-filled story, the ending is surprisingly satisfying, with an important message that a lesser filmmaker might have telegraphed too much.
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Apr 17, 2014
    75
    Sometimes The Railway Man is hard to watch. It’s also hard to imagine anyone watching it and not being deeply moved.
  8. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Apr 24, 2014
    67
    The Railway Man wants to be two or three different movies wrapped up in one and ends up being a fairly mediocre version of each.
  9. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Apr 23, 2014
    67
    Screenwriters Andy Paterson and Frank Cottrell Boyce (who wrote many of Michael Winterbottom’s early films) adeptly shift the action back and forth between these two timelines, and the drama – exterior and interior – is engrossing in both tracks.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 11, 2014
    67
    Firth is very good at playing racked men of high principle. He’s so well cast as Lomax that, at times, he’s almost too perfect in the role. He’s still the best thing about the movie.
  11. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Apr 10, 2014
    67
    Along the way, The Railway Man accumulates some power and insight, but it’s also hard to shake the feeling that a complicated first-person account has been given the Weinstein treatment.
  12. Reviewed by: Adam Markovitz
    Apr 9, 2014
    67
    Colin Firth smolders as the PTSD-riddled veteran (played in flashbacks by War Horse‘s Jeremy Irvine), and Nicole Kidman cries dutifully as his wife — but they’re both derailed by the movie’s tidy emotional resolutions.
  13. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Sep 12, 2013
    67
    For all the assuredness behind the camera and in front of it, there's very little in way of edge or even, surprisingly, emotion.
  14. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Apr 24, 2014
    63
    Firth gives the performance his all as a man trapped in a vortex of grief, shame and hate, but as in Scott Hicks’s "Shine," which the film occasionally resembles, there’s an overtidy relationship between trauma and catharsis.
  15. 63
    More interesting as history, re-written, than as the moral parable this true story became.
  16. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Apr 17, 2014
    63
    The film is less deeply affecting than merely admirable. It’s a good, slick and well-intentioned film that wants so hard to be an important one that the slight feeling of letdown it leaves is magnified.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Apr 17, 2014
    63
    Throughout, Firth compellingly plays a man struggling to make sense of the ordeal that his life has become. Too often, though, you can feel the movie struggling right along with him.
  18. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Apr 17, 2014
    63
    Even when the film's cheating, Firth refuses to tidy up the fictionalized Lomax's emotional state. The actor, so good at playing stalwart men contending with inner demons, can utter a simple line — "I don't think I can be put back together" — and break your heart, legitimately, without histrionics.
  19. Reviewed by: Christy Lemire
    Apr 11, 2014
    63
    Austere and old-fashioned almost to a fault, The Railway Man offers tastefully safe treatment of a horrific subject.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Apr 10, 2014
    63
    For a well-acted movie about the horrors of war and the lure of revenge, it's surprisingly dull and starchy.
  21. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Apr 25, 2014
    60
    Nicole Kidman as wife Patti (shows nice, subtle touches in her limited time on-screen).
  22. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Apr 10, 2014
    60
    Mr. Firth gives a reserved, compelling performance.
  23. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Apr 8, 2014
    60
    It's heartening to have a tony war film about PTSD and forgiveness; it would be grander still to have one that dedicated itself more fully to examining the courage it would take to offer that forgiveness, rather than dash its energies upon the dreary cowardice of the crime itself.
  24. Reviewed by: Cath Clarke
    Jan 7, 2014
    60
    In Firth’s every grimace and flinch you feel the torment of Lomax’s private world, but emotionally ‘The Railway Man’ feels trimmed and tidied up.
  25. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Sep 12, 2013
    60
    There’s something decidedly old-fashioned — and also dull as ditchwater — about Jonathan Teplitzky’s retelling of events.
  26. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Sep 12, 2013
    60
    The result is a film that does perfectly respectable justice to Lomax's ordeal, without ever making a strong case for itself as independently stirring art.
  27. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 24, 2014
    50
    Colin Firth is an Academy Award winner, so perhaps his lack of chemistry with fellow honoree Nicole Kidman is a carefully laid clue that his middle-aged newlywed Eric Lomax is damaged goods. Yet to the drama’s detriment, Lomax is about as poisonous as a week-old crumpet.
  28. Reviewed by: Jenni Miller
    Apr 15, 2014
    50
    Suffers from a script that places dramatic emphasis in all the wrong places.
  29. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Sep 12, 2013
    50
    The Railway Man is well-acted and handsomely produced, but its honorable intentions are not matched with sustained emotional impact or psychological suspense.
  30. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Apr 10, 2014
    40
    Admirable without being fully engaging. It’s too intelligent to dismiss, but not emotional enough to inspire lasting passion.
  31. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 10, 2014
    40
    Nothing if not ambitious, yet at war with itself stylistically.
  32. Reviewed by: David Ehrlich
    Apr 9, 2014
    30
    The Railway Man is such a safe, respectful portrait of true-life catharsis that it feels afraid to reopen the same old wounds it exalts Lomax for confronting.
  33. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Apr 10, 2014
    25
    I think I’d rather have the waterboarding than the movie’s bromides about how we’re all victims and hate must end.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. Feb 12, 2015
    6
    It begins like a poorly executed romantic movie, too fast and a little messy. Then when we get to the thick of it, the heart of the story andIt begins like a poorly executed romantic movie, too fast and a little messy. Then when we get to the thick of it, the heart of the story and Eric Lomax's history starts to make sense a little bit, but again it's executed poorly. The photography is good, the actors gave a decent performance, so it must be the script or the director.

    Since the film is based on a true story, it's a shame that there's such a lack of emotional involvement. It's not as gruesome as it could have been for movie War movie, the torture is kept to a minimum, so they could have pull on the audience's heart strings and play on the emotion card more. I needed to care, to feel for Eric Lomax but I never really did.

    As I mentioned the cast gave a decent performance, they were good maybe not great but they were sensitive and raw. Jeremy Irvine is unrecognizable in this film but it feels like he was barely there. Kidman is graceful and reeks of devotion while Firth wears his heart on his sleeve for the audience and Sanada is just sort of impressive.

    Although the film did not work for me, I recognized that Eric Lomax's story is inspiring but the movie failed to help me connected with his amazing story. I feel this is a hit or miss situation depending on who you are.

    @wornoutspines
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 22, 2014
    10
    War is hell. The worst part about it is the lies that are told to justify the war itself and the cruelty that comes as a consequence.War is hell. The worst part about it is the lies that are told to justify the war itself and the cruelty that comes as a consequence. Railway Man tells a part of the story of World War II that is rarely told through the eyes of a British officer that exemplified the suffering and humiliation endured by the British that were left to surrender to the Japanese at Singapore. It tells the story of two men who find a way to bring closure and find forgiveness and reconciliation. It also tells of a love story of a woman who wouldn't give up until her husband was healed. Full Review »
  3. Aug 5, 2014
    10
    What a fantastic film with a twist .. and then based on a real life scenario.

    It took a long time for the Japanese to officially say sorry
    What a fantastic film with a twist .. and then based on a real life scenario.

    It took a long time for the Japanese to officially say sorry to those who fought the forgotten war in the far east and I cant imagine what they went through or how they survived (those that did).

    Well worth a viewing
    Full Review »