Yet another heartfelt, earnest political drama with impeccable production values but no soul. THE WAY BACK is a movie I admired more than enjoyed - a movie whose run-time dragged, whose journey was interminable, whose real historic story seemed somehow absurd and beyond human endurance when shown on screen.
In post-WW2 Siberia, a rag-tag group of prisoners - political and hardcore thugs, plus one random girl - do the unthinkable - they escape by walking across a continent, 400 miles and 5 months, through Russia into China and then India. They talk - explaining the obvious. They walk. They survive. But there are no emotional truths, no small practical details of how they survived, to immerse us in their story.
Peter Weir (MASTER AND COMMANDER, THE TRUMAN SHOW, DEAD POETS SOCIETY) has a real mis-step with this clunking film - over-burdened by its political and attempt at spiritual significance. Wasted performances by Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Mark Strong, Ed Harris and Saiorse Ronan. Only Russell Boyd 's cinematography is memorable, but that certainly isn't enough to warrant a viewing of this tedious film.
THE WAY BACK played Telluride 2010 and opened worldwide in the first half of 2011. It is available to rent and own. THE WAY BACK was nominated for Best Make-Up at the 2011 Oscars but lost to THE WOLFMAN.