The Way Back (2011)



Critic Consensus: 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.

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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) nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) and Mark Strong (Body of Lies, RocknRolla) co-star. Written by Weir and Keith Clarke, the film is Peter's first since 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. It is inspired by the acclaimed book The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom, as well as first-person accounts and anecdotes as told to, and researched by Weir and executive producer Clarke. Produced by Joni Levin, Peter Weir, Duncan Henderson (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) and Nigel Sinclair (Terminator 3: Salvation), THE WAY BACK is an Exclusive Media Group, National Geographic Entertainment and ImageNation Abu Dhabi presentation and an Exclusive Films production. Keith Clarke, John Ptak, Guy East, Simon Oakes, Tobin Armbrust, Jake Eberts, Edward Borgerding, Mohamed Khalaf, Adam Leipzig, Scott Rudin and Jonathan Schwartz are Executive Producers. The film's Co-Producer is Roee Sharon Peled and Co-Executive Producer is Alex Brunner. Weir has assembled an accomplished group of filmmakers with whom he has previously collaborated, including Academy Award (R) winning Director of Photography Russell Boyd (Master and Commander, The Year of Living Dangerously, Gallipoli), Film Editor Lee Smith (Master and Commander, as well as The Dark Knight, for which he received an Academy Award (R) nomination), Production Designer John Stoddart (Fearless, The Mosquito Coast) and Costume Designer Wendy Stites, Oscar (R) nominated for Master and Commander and with credits on nine Weir films. -- (C) New Market Films
PG-13 (for violent content, depiction of physical hardships, a nude image and brief strong language)
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Ed Harris
as Mr. Smith
Jim Sturgess
as Janusz
Mark Strong (II)
as Khabarov
Zahari Baharov
as Interrogator
Sally Edwards
as Janusz's Wife, 1939
Dejan Angelov
as Andrei
Stanislav Pishtalov
as Commandant
Yordan Bikov
as Garbage Eater #1
Ruslan Kupenov
as Garbage Eater #2
Valentin Ganev
as Guard #2
Anton Trendafilov
as Steam Man
Pearce Quigley
as The Professor
Sattar Dikambaev
as Mongolian Horseman
Temirhan Tursungaliyev
as Young Mongolian Horseman
An-zung Le
as Shepherd
Hal Yamanouchi
as Official
Meglena Karalambova
as Janusz's Wife, 1989
Irinei Konstantinov
as Janusz, 1989
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Critic Reviews for The Way Back

All Critics (131) | Top Critics (34)

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.

Full Review… | April 12, 2016
New York Daily News
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | February 17, 2011
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 3, 2011
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 30, 2011
New Yorker
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 30, 2011
Miami Herald
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 30, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Way Back

four stars

MisterYoda ?
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.

Alex roy
Alex roy

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...

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

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