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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

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The Way Back
Not another Ewan McGregor bike ride


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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

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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


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