Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Jan 19, 2011
    90
    A grueling, stunningly photographed story.
  2. Reviewed by: Dan Kois
    Jan 22, 2011
    88
    The Way Back diligently catalogs the outrages through which extreme cold, hunger and thirst put the body, and Weir's camera finds the terrible beauty in his actors' chapped lips, windburned cheeks and tenderized feet.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jan 20, 2011
    88
    The director, 66, brings his passion for precision to every frame of the film, refusing to hype or Hollywoodize the detailed richness of the story.
  4. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jan 20, 2011
    83
    This is old-school monumental filmmaking, without CGI tricks or many soundstage comforts for a dedicated cast. David Lean would probably approve.
  5. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Jan 24, 2011
    80
    The overall metaphor Weir was aiming for - this idea of enemies so powerful and a war so menacing and confusingly big that no place seems safe except a place absurdly far away - comes through clearly and stays with you.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jan 21, 2011
    80
    The man-versus-the-natural world story is in Weir's wheelhouse, and Harris and Farrell get into a scene-stealing duel. Worth the trek.
  7. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    Jan 14, 2011
    80
    Beyond its visual splendors, however, the film achieves searing moral power.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jan 21, 2011
    75
    Weir has an epic imagination but, unlike, say David Lean, he doesn't fill out the epic vision with epic characters. The result is a film that seems simultaneously grand and skimpy.
  9. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 21, 2011
    75
    Part "The Great Escape" and part "Lawrence of Arabia, " Weir's epic The Way Back is ambitious in scope, grand in vision and rich with examples of the resilience of the human spirit.
  10. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jan 21, 2011
    75
    Stirring as it frequently is, The Way Back is a good movie that should have been a classic.
  11. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Jan 20, 2011
    75
    Weir is the real deal, and his gifts more than repay the time you invest in the film.
  12. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jan 20, 2011
    75
    As Russell Boyd's remarkable cinematography emphasizes the dwarfing grandeur of the surrounding topography, Weir shows how the corresponding smallness of individuals is compensated for by the grandeur of their aspiration.
  13. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Jan 20, 2011
    75
    Whether it is truth, fiction or, most likely, a little of each, the story Weir tells is a powerful parable of man's charge for freedom and his humbling by nature.
  14. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jan 20, 2011
    75
    It's earnest and well-acted and sturdily filmed: We're in good hands and we know it.
  15. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Jan 20, 2011
    75
    Well-acted and artfully (though conventionally) made, The Way Back tells a compelling story, regardless of whether it's based on truth or a fabrication.
  16. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Jan 20, 2011
    75
    It's also filled with scenes of extraordinary survival challenges. But the result is oddly impersonal and undifferentiated.
  17. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jan 19, 2011
    75
    An entertaining old-fashioned prison escape movie with a touch of the epic about it.
  18. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jan 20, 2011
    70
    It's impossible not to cry at their suffering, but whether you'll feel anything is another story.
  19. Reviewed by: Elvis Mitchell
    Jan 19, 2011
    70
    Weir's artisan's sureness grants a bewitching calm - his trademark ambience - to this harrowing tale.
  20. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Jan 21, 2011
    63
    The movie makes for quite a hike. It's also, at times, a bit of a slog.
  21. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jan 21, 2011
    63
    You would expect an epic with brains and hearts. Instead we settle for sturdy craft, with a stellar cast struggling to breathe life into the cold material.
  22. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jan 20, 2011
    63
    The Way Back, with its epic story and spectacularly bleak setting, invites comparisons with "Laurence of Arabia" and "Dr. Zhivago." It's awash in vast, unforgiving terrain. So it got the setting right, but not necessarily the substance.
  23. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 20, 2011
    63
    The result is a brisk trot through a story that is, at heart, a tough slog.
  24. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 19, 2011
    63
    There is an irony here. The film exhibits an admirable determination to do justice to a real story, but the story's not real.
  25. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jan 18, 2011
    60
    The Way Back then takes its time, creeping through gorgeous locations in Bulgaria, Morocco and Pakistan, and basically feeling like a two-hour-plus version of the desert scene from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
  26. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Jan 14, 2011
    60
    Weir couldn't make a boring film if his life depended on it, and for any other director The Way Back would be laudable. It's good, but from this director we have come to expect great.
  27. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    Jan 14, 2011
    60
    In its best moments is as big as a movie can be, as big as life itself.
  28. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Jan 26, 2011
    50
    Ultimately, however, The Way Back fails to connect on the all-important visceral, emotional level.
  29. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jan 20, 2011
    50
    Most of those hardships are familiar to movie lovers; that's a reductionist view of a serious and ambitious production, but it is, after all, a movie on a screen. (And a movie with a dreadfully clumsy ending.)
  30. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jan 20, 2011
    50
    Its stop-and-start feel keeps you from ever getting fully absorbed in the story.
  31. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Jan 20, 2011
    50
    Despite the two-hours-plus running time, major plot developments like the actual escape and the eventual departure of Colin Farrell's hardened Stalinist flit by so quickly that they barely register.
  32. Reviewed by: J. Hoberman
    Jan 18, 2011
    50
    His (Weir) hardship drama is stolidly old-fashioned, more extreme travelogue than exercise in visceral horror.
  33. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Jan 14, 2011
    50
    This arduous travelogue focuses on the macro (stunning, David Lean-like landscapes) and the micro (countless closeups of blistered flesh) to the virtual exclusion of compelling characters.
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 74 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 21
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 21
  3. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Jul 8, 2011
    10
    What would you do to survive? Would you become an animal that will do anything to survive or would there still be some humanity left in you? Would you rely on good will of other people or would you just look after yourself? Would you be ruthless, merciless, without any sympathy to other beings or would you show mercy, offer shelter, give food even if you know that it will lead to your death? This is a film that brings out these questions and let's you answer them for yourself. A gripping film with good acting and in my opinion one of better film that have came out this year. Full Review »
  2. Dec 23, 2011
    7
    It features incredible performances from Colin Farrel, Saoirse Ronan and Jim Sturgess. And it is backed up by a mighty storyline even though the way it is told is a bit boring. I give this movie 66%. Full Review »
  3. Jan 23, 2011
    8
    Movie was pretty entertaining and involving. There is no proof of the story being a fact and true history. Peter Weir has done a great job in this regard. Full Review »