The Way Back

The Way Back Image
Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 86 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: When they escape a Siberian labor camp in 1940 seven courageous multi-national prisoners discover the true meaning of friendship as their epic journey takes them across thousands of miles of hostile terrain en-route to India and their freedom. (Exclusive Media Group)

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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: 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jan 19, 2011
    75
    An entertaining old-fashioned prison escape movie with a touch of the epic about it.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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."
  7. 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.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  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?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. Collapse
  2. Apr 23, 2011
    10
    Really enjoyed it.. Great adventure and very entertaining great performance by great actors. Great pictures and bluray version looks great!Really enjoyed it.. Great adventure and very entertaining great performance by great actors. Great pictures and bluray version looks great! highly recommended! Expand
  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 inMovie 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. Expand
  4. May 30, 2014
    7
    It doesn't have enough emotional depth despite it's subject matter, but this film offers a grand visual spectacle and sweeping ambition thatIt doesn't have enough emotional depth despite it's subject matter, but this film offers a grand visual spectacle and sweeping ambition that creates an amazing story. Expand
  5. 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 thoughIt 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%. Expand
  6. Jan 22, 2011
    6
    If an epic comprises of too many repetitive details, it would be best to keep it short and to the point. These were the thoughts that wentIf an epic comprises of too many repetitive details, it would be best to keep it short and to the point. These were the thoughts that went through my head when watching The Way Back. With that said, by no means is this film lackluster, the cast is strong and the plot fascinating; But it is a disappointment that this compeller of a story is only half of the epic that it is intended to be.

    Academy Award nominated director Peter Weir returns from a seven year hiatus with the quasi film adaptation of The Long Walk, a proclaimed true story of six men who walked 4000 miles from Siberia to India. While the validity of this story still remains questionable, Weir uses solely the premise of this epic, substituting the characters with ones of his own creation. The beginning of the film we see the main protagonist Janusz (Jim Sturgess), a Polish prisoner of war who has been accused of sabotage and espionage towards the Communist Party. He is then sent to serve twenty years at a Siberian gulag. There he meets an American, Mr. Smith (Ed Harris) who insists that kindness can kill you here. Janusz and Mr. Smith, along with four other men including Russian criminal Valka (Colin Ferell), devise an escape plan to escape the gulag. Peter Weir is really brief in this portion of the movie with the escape being described in under half an hour. As a result, the characters are hastily developed, placing a subtle wall between the audience and the main figures. After the escape, Janusz leads the party through 4000 miles of different terrain with obstacles opposing their will to survive and attain freedom. They also encounter a young Polish girl, played by the rising star Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones), who joins the party in their venture for freedom.

    While the premise is strong, the walk is long (yes, it rhymes). The film goes into an hour of directionless plot, while also maintaining a rinse, wash, repeat style of story telling. The plot direction is as follows: walk one terrain, face natural obstacle, look at a another daunting terrain. While the direction in which the story is told is ultimately weak, the cast and the cinematography surely make up for it. Even though the cast is not as emotionally involved with the audience as it should be, the performances are solid. Ferrel and Harris are multi-dimensional as there is a mystery within both of the characters. If any emotion is involved with the characters, it will be towards these two. Saoirse Ronan, who by the way I am a big fan of, plays a small role but provides the much needed pathos. The main protagonist played by Sturgess is somewhat of a bland character, but it is he who creates the most dramatic moment at the end of the film. Another strong point of the movie, as said, is Russel Boyd's cinematography. The Way Back is from National Geographic Entertainment (which also produced March of The Penguins), resulting in images that illustrates nature in an eye-pleasing and interesting manner. Overall The Way Back is a superbly well-made film. Even though it has it moments of monotony, the cast and fascinating plot contributes to an entertaining experience as well providing a small commentary on communism. It may not have the strong emotional connection seen in Weir's other films (The Truman Show, Master And Commander), but the cast's efforts make the film compelling enough for a watch. Grade: B-
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  7. Dec 11, 2014
    6
    Beautiful visuals and a great cast but the connections aren't well developed or even fully explored between the characters and the audience orBeautiful visuals and a great cast but the connections aren't well developed or even fully explored between the characters and the audience or between the characters themselves. Saoirse Ronan adds an element of life to the group that was badly needed but never manages to pull the group together in a way that I could find satisfying. Difficult scenes like the escape from the Siberian camp were done entirely too briskly in favor of more long, drawn out travel scenes which still don't use the time to effectively connect you to the cast. Worth watching but clearly a film that could have been much more. Expand

See all 24 User Reviews

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