The Way Back (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

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.

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) 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 Filmsmore
Rating: PG-13 (for violent content, depiction of physical hardships, a nude image and brief strong language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Peter Weir, Keith Clarke
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 22, 2011
Box Office: $2.5M
Newmarket Films LLC


Ed Harris
as Mr. Smith
Zahari Baharov
as Interrogator
Sally Edwards
as Janusz's Wife, 1939
Yordan Bikov
as Garbage Eater #1
Ruslan Kupenov
as Garbage Eater #2
Pearce Quigley
as The Professor
Sattar Dikambaev
as Mongolian Horseman
Temirhan Tursungaliy...
as Young Mongolian Hors...
An-zung Le
as Shepherd
Meglena Karalambova
as Janusz's Wife, 1989
Irinei Konstantinov
as Janusz, 1989
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Way Back

Critic Reviews for The Way Back

All Critics (130) | 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

A gorgeously mounted epic that for all its virtues feels maddeningly remote.

Full Review… | May 3, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

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

Full Review… | July 24, 2013
We Got This Covered

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

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

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

Full Review… | June 22, 2013

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

Full Review… | February 16, 2013
Cinema Writer

Audience Reviews for The Way Back

four stars

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

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.

Super Reviewer

The Way Back Quotes

Valka: Grateful is for dogs.
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
Mr. Smith: Kindness--that can kill you here.
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
Valka: You say too many prayers for an innocent man.
– Submitted by Alexandar T (4 years ago)
Janusz: A free man died here today.
Valka: Still, one less mouth to feed... What?
– Submitted by Rory R (4 years ago)

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