Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Colin Farrell
Ed Harris
Jim Sturgess
Saoirse Ronan
Dragos Bucur
Alexandru Potocean.
Directors
Peter Weir.
Screenwriters
Keith R. Clarke
Peter Weir.
Running Time
133 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

The Way Back
Not another Ewan McGregor bike ride


submit to reddit


Plot
In 1940, seven prisoners escape from the confines of a Russian gulag in Siberia, and set out on a gruelling, 4,500-mile trek across some of the world’s harshest terrain, with little food and few supplies. Their efforts are almost certainly doomed, yet they would rather die as free men than Stalin’s prisoners.


Review
The Way Back
In 1956, Slavomir Rawicz published The Long Walk: The True Story Of A Trek To Freedom, a gripping account of his daring escape from a Russian gulag, and his subsequent journey across Siberia, Mongolia, the Himalayas, and finally to India, where he joined the British army to fight Hitler and Stalin. Originally optioned by actor Laurence Harvey, it was later considered as a vehicle for Burt Lancaster, and remained in development hell until director Peter Weir chose it as the follow-up to 2003’s Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World. Weir, a six-time Academy Award nominee whose résumé includes Witness, Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show and Fearless, saw the book as the basis for an extraordinary story of human endeavour and triumph over unimaginable odds — even after a BBC documentary appeared to prove that Rawicz had Made The Whole Thing Up, having been released from prison in 1942 as part of the Russian amnesty for Polish prisoners.

Whether the story is true or not, it makes for a compelling narrative, with convincing turns from Ed Harris, as a grizzled American emigré caught up in Stalin’s Reign Of Terror; Colin Farrell, as fatalistic Russian thief Valka; and Jim Sturgess, an engaging presence as Janusz, Polish instigator of the breakout and the escapees’ de facto leader. The desperate conditions they face on their long walk across the Siberian plains are nothing compared to the heat and torment of the Gobi Desert, and as the men trek towards either freedom or doom, they reflect on their lives and the circumstances which brought them to their awful fate.

It’s an entertaining journey, set against the sort of stunning vistas one would expect from a National Geographic-backed feature film. Yet despite the terrible hardships the men endure, the tale unfolds at an emotional distance which prevents one from being fully engaged with their plight. If you see one tale of courage and survival this month, it should probably be the slightly more static 127 Hours.


Verdict
Weir couldn’t make a boring film if his life depended on it, and for any other director The Way Back would be laudable. It’s good, but from this director we have come to expect great.


Reviewed by David Hughes

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Way Back
Empire Star Rating

Brilliant

Films like this are an enema to the shithouse of your average modern multiplex. Peter Wier one of the greats. Pure cinema with a story really worth telling. Wow. Builds to a crescendo, takes you along, makes you want to know. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BatSpider at 02:59, 22 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Way Back

There could have been spam you've not seen. It's not in the recycle bin and no notification is in here, so it can only have gone with a mass spam deletion I'm afraid. Some of them manage over 100 post before removed and they're all over the place - the majority are in news, but occasionally they randomly turn up somewhere else (we've had some in Off-Topic and places like Game Reviews as well). ... More

Posted by elab49 at 14:34, 16 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Way Back

Wow, my review has disappeared. That seems to happen a lot to me, which is quite funny considering I never link to my site in reviews and there has been no spam in this thread. I don't quite know whats going on here. The same thing happened with my review of Somewhere and Monsters. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 12:56, 16 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Way Back

Peter Weir's first film in seven years comes with a weight of expectations which it doesn't quite manage to bear. It's an interesting and beautifully shot film with some superb performances but it's ultimately not as involving or emotionally satisfying as it ought to be.   Part of the problem is that the of the seven of eight characters that we follow on the journey only about half of them stand out. These being Colin Farrell's gangster Valka, Ed Harris' Mr Smith and Jim Sturgess' Janus... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Scruffybobby at 17:17, 15 January 2011 | Report This Post


The Way Back

It would be a shame if you missed this in the Cinema and watched it on DVD instead because this needs to be seen upon the big screen. I like how they survive in prison and on their epic journey by foot this is a nice piece of cinema. four and half stars it is long but I didn't really want it to end. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 17:54, 12 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Way Back

Director: eir Screenwriters: larke, Peter Weir Starring: rgess, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, Colin Farrell, Mark Strong Synopsis A group of prisoners engineer a gruelling escape from a Stalinist Siberian gulag in 1942 and their passage to India. Review It’s been years since we’ve seen anything by Peter Weir, who not only has an extraordinary CV but one that is extraordinarily diverse. From war epics like Gallipolie ist comedy like The Truman Showussie filmmaker continue... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 18:46, 29 December 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Not good.

No, not your review as such, just the fact that a Weir film is apparently so bad. ... More

Posted by matty_b at 17:59, 22 December 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Not good.

L: matty_b This review makes me sad. ote] My review? It seems that many, myself included, had pretty high expectations for it. I'm really looking forward to seeing what others think though, perhaps I was wrong!!?! ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 17:52, 22 December 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Not good.

This review makes me sad. ... More

Posted by matty_b at 10:47, 22 December 2010 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Review Of 2014: The 15 Best Cameos Of The Year
Our favourite one-scene movie-stealers

8 Things You Can Learn From The BFI's Star Wars Exhibition
The original crawl, a 'grotesque' villain and a very different princess

Review Of The Year: 40 Worst Posters Of 2014
One-sheets that you'd rather not have on your wall

Hobbit Q&As: Ian McKellen On Finally Saying Goodbye And Farewell To Gandalf The Grey
Read our exclusive Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies interviews

Review Of 2014: The Best TV Moments Of The Year
We celebrate the small screen's biggest scenes

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)