The Way Back 2010

Critics score:
74 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Kathleen Murphy, MSN Movies: Gorgeous to look at, and a matter-of-fact paean to the possibility of human decency, The Way Back makes the genre-juggling dream quest of Inception look like child's play. Read more

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: It's impossible not to cry at their suffering, but whether you'll feel anything is another story. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: How many new ways can you dramatize icy gales, parched deserts, agonizing thirst, shimmering mirages? And how do you step up the pace of a story that's about people walking? Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: This doesn't sound like a lot of fun to watch, but Weir - in his first movie since 2003's "Master and Commander" - makes it mesmerizing and occasionally lyrical. Read more

Nathan Rabin, AV Club: Well-acted and artfully (though conventionally) made, The Way Back tells a compelling story, regardless of whether it's based on truth or a fabrication. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: The movie's grueling, inspiring, astonishing to look at. You come out feeling you've traveled half the planet. As ordeal movies go, though, this one's oddly easy to shake off. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: Weir and editor Lee Smith seem preoccupied with hustling events along, and nervous about boring us for even a second. The result is a brisk trot through a story that is, at heart, a tough slog. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: The result is a film that seems simultaneously grand and skimpy. For all its faults, it's an honorable effort, though. I hope Weir doesn't wait seven more years for his next film. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: The scenes of brute survival - hunting for food, improvising shelter, making wind-and-snow masks out of sheets of birch bark - are vivid. The men are not. Read more

Eric D. Snider, 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. Read more

Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter: A harrowing epic that will not be an easy sell, but it finds Weir again working at the top of his game. Read more

Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times: That a production this ambitious has been financed and distributed outside the studio system throws a curveball to anyone who thinks "independent film" can mean only urban moderns sitting in an apartment bemoaning their ennui. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: 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. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: Weir has always loved atmospheric locales and group dynamics, and here he makes the most of both Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: The abiding sensation, at the end, is one not of fulfillment but of exhaustion. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: There's little human conflict; Sturgess never doubts himself, and the men mostly get along; even Farrell's gangster is on best behavior. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: The film largely misses its opportunities to reflect the enormity of communism, choosing instead the route of a conventional adventure yarn. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: No one will go away disappointed or indifferent. It's a movie that sticks with you like Elmer's glue. Read more

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer: Whether it is truth, fiction or, most likely, a little of each, the story Weir tells is a powerful parable of man's charge for freedom and his humbling by nature. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: Not every incredible story makes a compelling movie. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: This artful tale of survival against the elements - radiating terror and beauty - continues Peter Weir's fascination with characters trapped by worlds they didn't make. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Whether it's true or not, this portrait of desperate, determined people surviving blizzards and dust storms and crossing mountains and deserts is a gruff and uplifting celebration of how much people can take and how much they value freedom. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: "The Way Back" is a return to the historical epics of David Lean, a story of survival under unthinkable physical and spiritual hardship. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: He long stretches between stations make The Way Back an arduous road. Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail: The Way Back is fascinating until it becomes an ordeal. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Despite a strong cast that includes Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell and Saoirse Ronan, we never really get to know any of the sloggers. Read more

Mary F. Pols, TIME Magazine: 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. Read more

Trevor Johnston, Time Out: For all the film's occasional peaks, we're left with the sense of a story so incredible even this cinematic visionary is struggling to contain it on celluloid. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: There are exhilarating moments, and there are some undeniably tense scenes. Mixed in, however, is possibly more trudging than you're going to see in any other film. Read more

Peter Debruge, Variety: An impressive but not especially immersive true story of four POWs who escaped the Siberian Gulags and crossed the Himalayas on foot to freedom. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: There's even a sense in which the movie is about its own logistics, although it would take a fanatic like Werner Herzog to turn that into compelling cinema. Read more

Dan Kois, Washington Post: Weir's movie is superbly made, but its fancy-dancing around history gives a hint of inauthenticity to a film that otherwise thrives on its reverence for historical detail. Read more

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: The Way Back represents an exquisite example of style over substance, of vast visuals dwarfing the characters and nearly swallowing the story whole. Read more