The Way Back - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Way Back Reviews

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December 29, 2016
Tough very realistically made story of Siberian prisoners that escaped through a very long trek in beautiful and unforgiving landscapes of incredible variety. Heartbreaking but visually extraordinary. Definitely worth seeing a second time.
½ December 24, 2016
Read a better book on this than this 'hollywood' version.

Great scenery. Poor acting, usual 8 year old script. Group that wants to survive but heads towards disaster! Recovers with unlikely luck and stupid bravo. Ed Harris is awful. 50's American drive in movie hero (think Rocky too) unsuited to today's cinema.
½ December 5, 2016
A cool adventure flick even if it doesn't drag a little.
November 5, 2016
A soul satisfying motivational movie.
Super Reviewer
October 31, 2016
This film about escape and survival during WW2 is beautifully filmed and comes with an impressing cast. The problem is that it consists only of people walking. That's never boring, but really slow. Even though the gorgeous landscapes change and there are interesting problems between freezing and starving to solve, not all that much happens. It's most certainly an intentional decision by the filmmakers to make the audience feel as exhausted and worn out as the protagonists by the end of the film. But even with the long running time the ending comes somewhat from out of nowhere. Still, worth seeing for the impressive landscapes alone.
August 22, 2016
"The Way Back" is an entertaining film, with (mostly) good acting all the way around, but the hardships faced by the group are presented rather than felt. Entertaining as it is, and it is entertaining, the film lacked depth and emotion.
August 16, 2016
Gosto do fato do Peter Weir não se deter a sentimentalismos e permanecer fiel a isso do início ao fim. Mesmo que em alguns momentos há falta de uma carga mais dramática, a sábia escolha do diretor destaca a força e dureza de seus personagens, carregados por um elenco exemplar, neste filme-jornada com ótima fotografia.
June 19, 2016
2016. Pretty good survival movie
April 3, 2016
½ March 13, 2016
Ed Harris stars in this gripping drama about desperate survival. I'm an Ed Harris fan but this didn't reach me as a fit for him. Maybe he's typecast into supporting roles in my mind. Direction and production are solid but something I can't quite place my finger on is amiss as this could have been Oscar worthy in many ways but isn't.
March 1, 2016
Captured for alleged spying and anti-Soviet sentiments, young polish cavalry officer Janusz (Jim Sturgess) is sentenced to prison in a soul destroying Siberian Gulag. Driven by the need to return home and recuse his wife of any wrong doings in his false accusal, Janusz embraces fellow inmate former actor Khabarov (Mark Strong) and his ideas for escape.

In a place where "nature is your jailer, and she is without mercy" Janusz suffers from his own need to be kind and is quickly singled out by guards as useful for the most punishing chores.

As the unspeakable conditions, lice, famine and internal crime only fuel his desperation. The initial idea of careful planning for a spring departure, provisions hording and secrecy is discarded as nature provides and opportunity for cover in the form of a blizzard.

The decision made, the seven strong veritable league-of-nations united by English, the safety of numbers and the sheer will to survive set out trudging through snow. The initial plan is to survive off the land with diminishing molded camp provisions whist walking 500 miles south of the camp to Lake Baikal. Once following the river, they will reach the Trans-Siberian Railway where they can cross into Mongolia to Tibet and freedom.

On the way, they gain a female companion Irena (Saoirse Ronan) a lone Polish girl also on the run but and lose two comrades. Valka (Colin Farrell) a Russian Stalin-loving criminal who was only allowed to escape after threatens Janusz but proves to be useful due to his lack of morals and his trusty wolf knife; the other a blind from starvation prisoner who freezes when he can not find his way back to camp.

The spread of communism is more vast than expected and their trek sees them having to go much further; crossing the Gobi desert and Himalayas to reach freedom in British India. The bleak, demoralizing and exhausting journey turns into a trek across 4000 miles of grueling terrain in which the group endures a punishing race against the elements, time, hunger and fear.

Having seven years off since 2003's Master and Commander, Australian director Peter Weir adapts Slavomir Rawitz's 'inspired by true events' story, Long walk; The True Story of a trek to freedom. Shot on a natural-set by cinematographer Russell Boyd, Weir seems to have embraced the stunning landscapes as a beautiful, if harsh, mistress an attitude that serves well.

The extreme locations of Bulgaria, Morocco and India in uncompromising freezing snow, desert quick-sands, sheer cliffs, dense forests and unforgiving mountains accentuate and eloquently capture the insurmountable harshness of topic.

Without feeling the need to harbor on the brutality of the camps or the pain of the trek, the torture is better embraced in scenes such as one where the group stave off a pack of wolves to feast feverishly on the carrion in their midst. A late sequence in which a historical news-real montage shows the poles post war communist rule, Hungarian uprising the fall of the Berlin wall is a wonderful closure without badgering viewers with history.

The motley league-of-nations group has an outstanding cast to match. English actor Strugess is creditable as the polish Janusz, America Ed Harris plays his usual enigmatic grizzled cynic Mr. Smith, Romanian actor Dragos Bucur is strong in a solid supporting role, American; with an ear for languages, Saoirse Ronan brings a human face to the desperate men and emotional depth as the only female character and Colin Farrell sheds his Irish brogue and embodies the essence of a russki accented tattooed gambler.

The Verdict: As the unforgiving landscape is devoid of food, shelter, relief and kindness, this movie is devoid of clichés, Hollywood glamorization and the usual histrionics. A more subtle, more moody and more restrained retelling of a true life 'inspired' journey that shows that humanity is capable of decency even as it struggles to survive.

Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 04/03/2011
½ February 28, 2016
A person's will to live can be so extraordinary that it will never cease to amaze me. The terrain they went through, from snow to desert and snow again till they get to India is superbly captured in this film.

My only complaint is their accents...thank goodness for subtitles on the DVD.
½ January 20, 2016
Good, if unremarkable. It often feels like a much longer movie that's been cut down awkwardly, especially in the first half, in which characters and relationships are hastily introduced and plot points rushed through in a confusing way. The walk itself is well-depicted, however (despite still feeling too rushed at times), with the gruelling section in the desert particularly evocative and affecting. Shame about the blank space in the lead.
½ December 6, 2015
OK, if you haven't seen enough gritty WWII escape films, here's another one for you. Based on a true story, with considerable Hollywood embellishment,, you get all the death, mayhem, pain and suffering you like, if you like that kind of thing in your movies. Sure, there's some good actors here doing some good acting, but nothing new under the sun. Yes, we know, war is hell, man is inherently evil and unjust, but we all want to survive. We've been this way many times before. But if you are having a particularly good day, and you want to take it down several notches, this is just the gritty, death and hopelessness film you're looking for.
November 20, 2015
Visually vast, impeccably dedicated, and stretching, its occasional gaping flaws in writing really don't matter much.
October 8, 2015
Although its pacing and repetition may turn off some viewers, The Way Back is still beautifully shot, powerfully-acted, and dramatically engaging.
September 2, 2015
Epic In The Telling As The Story Itself Just Takes Over...& With Such A Journey, It's Not Surprising.
½ July 11, 2015
Decent, great scenery and cinematography, but a tad slow in parts, massively jumpy in others.
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