The Way Back

(2010)

Genres: Drama

Review: The Way Back

Transcript for Review: The Way Back

IGNATIY:

Our next film is THE WAY BACK. Set during the early years of World War II, it follows a group of prisoners who escape from a Siberian gulag and end up traveling across Russia, Mongolia, Tibet and eventually India in their effort to escape. Jim Sturgess stars as Janusz, a Polish prisoner of war. In the camp he meets a grizzled, taciturn American played by Ed Harris.



CLIP 7 – valka and the wolf

IGNATIY:

Together they form a plan to escape with a few of their fellow prisoners, including Colin Farrell as a knife-obsessed career criminal.


CLIP 2 - irena

Directed by Peter Weir, THE WAY BACK is a smartly-made, carefully-paced adventure movie. It goes where many other films have gone before, but it never feels like it’s just going through the motions. This shows in the detailing of the performances, and in the way Weir is able to make the somewhat lopsided structure of the plot appear seamless.


CHRISTY:
Yeah, this is a great looking movie; it went on way too long. The way back takes a long time to get there.

IGNATIY:
Well, you’re traveling 4,000 miles. I mean, you can’t travel 4,000 miles in an hour and a half.

CHRISTY:
But you shouldn’t feel like you’re slogging with them. It shouldn’t be torturous.

IGNATIY:
Really? No, I like the fact that it’s very long. There’s nothing wrong with like a 2-½ hour adventure movie.

CHRISTY:
But there should be tension over the 2-½ hours. This feels more like an episodic, kind of, video game structure to me. Here they are in the snowy fort. Here they are in the desert. And here are their feet getting more and more thrashed at each place they go.

IGNATIY:
And then, every half hour somebody dies.

CHRISTY:
Right, well, that’s something else that is a problem here, is that you know from the beginning that only three of them are going to make it out. And that depletes it of a great deal of its tension.

IGNATIY:
Well you only know that if you looked – oh, wait, you’re right, there’s the opening title card.

CHRISTY:
The title card! Three men walked out. So you have like, what? Seven of them?

IGNATIY:
Yes.

CHRISTY:
So that –

IGNATIY:
But then you get to guess which one is, you know, gonna –

CHRISTY:
-- sucked a lot of attention right there. It’s like Survivor Siberian gulag. It’s very exciting. It’s all about the scenery, but the characters themselves are essentially interchangeable. I think beyond Colin Farrell chewing up the scenery and thugs.

IGNATIY:
What I like about the movie is that it makes very good use of faces. In that way, it sort of reminds me of THE ROAD. Pretty much everyone who is cast in the film, maybe with the exception of Jim Sturgess, who has a slightly forgettable face, they have these very good, grizzled faces that take dirt and mud very well.

CHRISTY:
It does feel very visceral. Real fast – Could you watch all of the Russian and listen to it without having to look at the subtitles?

IGNATIY:
Ah, not when Colin Farrell – Colin Farrell makes a very admirable effort, but his pronunciation of the word for “sweater” is hilarious.

CHRISTY:
“Sweet-ter!”

IGNATIY
“Sweeth-ter!” he says.

CHRISTY:
Very accurate.