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The Way Back (2011)



Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 128
Fresh: 96 | Rotten: 32

It isn't as emotionally involving as it should be, but this Peter Weir epic offers sweeping ambition and strong performances to go with its grand visual spectacle.


Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 33
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 14

It isn't as emotionally involving as it should be, but this Peter Weir epic offers sweeping ambition and strong performances to go with its grand visual spectacle.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 32,544

My Rating

Movie Info

Directed by six-time Academy Award (R) nominee Peter Weir, THE WAY BACK is an epic story of survival, solidarity and indomitable human will. Shot in Bulgaria, Morocco and India, the film stars Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, The Other Boleyn Girl), Ed Harris (Appaloosa) and Colin Farrell (In Bruges) as prisoners of a Soviet Union labor camp, who, along with four others, flee their Siberian Gulag and begin a treacherous journey across thousands of miles of hostile terrain. Academy Award (R)



Apr 22, 2011


Newmarket Films LLC

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All Critics (128) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (96) | Rotten (32) | DVD (8)

Weir has always loved atmospheric locales and group dynamics, and here he makes the most of both

February 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Eventually the film itself is something of an endurance test, and not as rewarding as it hopes to be. But it's a worthy venture, earnest and well-produced and occasionally gripping.

February 3, 2011 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The abiding sensation, at the end, is one not of fulfillment but of exhaustion.

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comments (2)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is an impressive production and technical feat, but through most of it, I kept thinking about how difficult the filming conditions must have been, and not about the lives of the men in front of me.

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

he long stretches between stations make The Way Back an arduous road.

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Way Back represents an exquisite example of style over substance, of vast visuals dwarfing the characters and nearly swallowing the story whole.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Way Back is an inspiring story that is beautifully photographed and full of interesting and well acted characters.

July 24, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Like its characters, this drama plods along but its compelling plot makes it worth seeing.

June 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

"The Way Back" is a boring movie. Repetitive, protracted and wearisome. Mostly, though: It's just long.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

a solid, resonant meditation on survival, on hope, on the value of life in the face of implacable hostility, portrayed memorably by an excellent cast and [Director] Weir's vast, brutal, awe-inspiring landscapes

February 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

An old fashioned survival yarn, beautifully shot and well-told.

January 16, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Script-wise, there is nothing truly revelatory here, but the patient viewer will be rewarded by a film of unique awe and heart wrenching wonder.

May 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

However, among solid performances, beautiful locations, and a truly harrowing journey, this film left me feeling empty.

May 6, 2011 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

It's unfortunate that Peter Weir's first film in seven years, although a remarkable story, by its very nature risks tediousness.

April 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Moving Pictures Magazine
Moving Pictures Magazine

This is a perfect example of the well-made (from acclaimed director Peter Weir), well-acted and well-everything-elsed film that you watch, admire and then hope to never lay eyes on again.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

Screen-saver metaphysics

March 14, 2011 Full Review Source: CinePassion

There is a limit to how many times one human can watch toothless, malnourished men stumble around the desert bitching about communism and a lack of borscht.

March 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Triple J
Triple J

An exceptional adventure story from one of the founding fathers of Australia's modern cinema.

March 5, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

It may not seem like much of a compliment to say a movie makes you feel like you've walked 4,000 miles, but "The Way Back" puts you in its characters' tattered shoes and makes you care whether they make it home or not.

March 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Visually, as with all Peter Weir's films, this is really outstanding and really quite memorable.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

It's an uncompromising film, necessarily episodic in its depiction of the group's quest for survival, but mesmerizingly involving.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

The characters are so underdeveloped that there exists no real relationship between them on screen or in fact between characters and the audience.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Trespass

full review at Movies for the Masses

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

An epic tale of mind, body, and spirit, The Way Back looks at the other side of WWII atrocities, and marks the return of master filmmaker Peter Weir.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

A great escape leads to a harrowing test of endurance.

February 22, 2011 Full Review Source:

Despite an epic premise and the fine talent involved, the characters are under-written and the drama never soars.

February 22, 2011 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia) | Comments (3)
FILMINK (Australia)

Audience Reviews for The Way Back

four stars
December 7, 2013
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

Peter Weir is a fine filmmaker and he has crafted some truly terrific films. His work is truly engaging. He always manages to assemble great casts that feature prominently in his films. This is a strong effort with a great story and terrific talent involved. I much preferred this film over Master & Commander and it is a movie that is one of the finer directorial efforts from Weir. The cast make the material work well enough from start to finish. Based on true events, this film is a standout tale of survival in the harshest of times and can make it through with perseverance and determination. This is a great film from the first moment and if you love these types of movies, then give it a shot, you'll surely enjoy it. The Way Back is one of Peter Weir's strongest efforts and it is a movie that delivers some genuine tension and excitement. All of the cast members bring something unique to the screen, but it is Weir's eye to create a story worth telling that sets this picture apart from others in his filmography. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and if you love a good survival story, then this is the film to watch. Peter Weir has made some fine movies in the past, but The Way Back is a movie that is a brilliant return to form to what he used to do and he delivers something truly memorable and almost flawless in terms of storytelling. Weir is a fine filmmaker and with this film he proves that once again. With a great script and cast, Peter Weir was able to craft a movie that is thrilling from start to finish.
July 12, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Very well done. No special effects. No over the top action. Just a good story about desperation, and determination. A true story? Not sure, but inspiring just the same. Ed Harris is wonderful, as usual. Has he ever made a bad film? Not that I've seen...
July 26, 2012

Super Reviewer

A group of refugees walk from Siberia to India.
If only the beginning title cards didn't give away the end of the film, I might have thought it more suspenseful and compelling. As it is, I could guess the ending easily, and the film lost its luster for me. Additionally, it is affected by Lord of the Rings syndrome: the mistaken belief that beautiful shots of people walking makes for compelling cinema. Peter Weir, whose films all include the plights of common people against repressive politics, should have taken some notes from Danny Boyle, whose 127 Hours made a guy stuck under a rock more compelling than this peripatetic film.
But if you look at a map and trace the incredible distance these people traveled, you can understand why the story is so incredible. The characters are certainly courageous and admirable, and the performances by the cast - even by the insufferable Colin Farrell - are all up to par.
Overall, it's a compelling idea with compelling characters, but the film lacks a stylistic flair to keep it interesting.
June 18, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Valka: Grateful is for dogs.
    – Submitted by Frances H (13 months ago)
    1. Mr. Smith: Kindness--that can kill you here.
    – Submitted by Frances H (13 months ago)
    1. Valka: You say too many prayers for an innocent man.
    – Submitted by Alexandar T (2 years ago)
    1. Janusz: A free man died here today.
    2. Valka: Still, one less mouth to feed... What?
    – Submitted by Rory R (3 years ago)
    1. Valka: Don't you know what 'Stalin' means, funny man? Means man-of-steel.
    – Submitted by Ricardo Z (3 years ago)
    1. Valka: We're lost.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (7)

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