The Way Back

POW drama inspired by the “true story” of a band of prisoners who escaped a 1940 Soviet labor camp.  What should have been a slam dunk in excitement becomes a slow, boring trudge across unforgiving terrain.  Wilderness-survival stories are usually riveting because of the various obstacles the protagonists must endure, yet there isn’t a lot of conflict here.  The actual prison break is surprisingly easy.  There is some commotion when they first escape, but no one is ever seen chasing them during  the movie.  Just distance and environment stand between them and freedom.  Nature is the villain.  Yawn.  Not helping matters is the characters’ lack of charisma.  The group starts out with 7 men but only actors Ed Harris and Colin Farrell really have much personality.  The other 5 are completely interchangeable.  Later they add a pretty Polish girl to their party, but even she might as well be one of the guys too.  No romance, nothing unique that sets her character apart from the rest either.  The film’s best asset is the stunning cinematography by Russell Boyd.  His vivid photographic style overshadows an uneventful 4,000 mile hike.  Triumph of the spirit over abusive elements has been presented more compellingly before.  Never Cry Wolf comes to mind.  Sadly here, the plot is essentially a harsh travelogue of snow and sand.

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3 Responses to “The Way Back”

  1. I really liked your review. It’s a little sad that this movie’s being received like this, though. I thought it was gonna be, as you said, a “slam dunk”. It has too much of a great cast to be this boring.

  2. I didn’t find it boring, but I agree with Mark, not enough conflict. To be in that situation facing the elements, must’ve been complete horror. But on film, there has to be something more. Disappointed. 😦

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