Parents' Guide to

The Way Back

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Rousing but intense war/wilderness survival adventure.

Movie PG-13 2011 133 minutes
The Way Back Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 18+


I love this movie, it was very touching

This title has:

Great messages
age 15+

not that much emotionally involving but very epic like slow paced movie.

Directed by six-time Academy Award (R) nominee Peter Weir, THE WAY BACK is an epic story of survival, solidarity and indomitable human will. Shot in Bulgaria, Morocco and India, the film stars Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, The Other Boleyn Girl), Ed Harris (Appaloosa) and Colin Farrell (In Bruges) as prisoners of a Soviet Union labor camp, who, along with four others, flee their Siberian Gulag and begin a treacherous journey across thousands of miles of hostile terrain. Academy Award (R) nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) and Mark Strong (Body of Lies, RocknRolla) co-star. Written by Weir and Keith Clarke, the film is Peter's first since 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. It is inspired by the acclaimed book The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom, as well as first-person accounts and anecdotes as told to, and researched by Weir and executive producer Clarke. Produced by Joni Levin, Peter Weir, Duncan Henderson (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) and Nigel Sinclair (Terminator 3: Salvation), THE WAY BACK is an Exclusive Media Group, National Geographic Entertainment and ImageNation Abu Dhabi presentation and an Exclusive Films production. Keith Clarke, John Ptak, Guy East, Simon Oakes, Tobin Armbrust, Jake Eberts, Edward Borgerding, Mohamed Khalaf, Adam Leipzig, Scott Rudin and Jonathan Schwartz are Executive Producers. The film's Co-Producer is Roee Sharon Peled and Co-Executive Producer is Alex Brunner. Weir has assembled an accomplished group of filmmakers with whom he has previously collaborated, including Academy Award (R) winning Director of Photography Russell Boyd (Master and Commander, The Year of Living Dangerously, Gallipoli), Film Editor Lee Smith (Master and Commander, as well as The Dark Knight, for which he received an Academy Award (R) nomination), Production Designer John Stoddart (Fearless, The Mosquito Coast) and Costume Designer Wendy Stites, Oscar (R) nominated for Master and Commander and with credits on nine Weir films. wow this movie i wanted to see, wasn't that anticipated but wanted to see it. it wasn't a masterpiece but a very good movie made very finely. it got no nominations or awards consideration. its going to be kind of underrated. when i first saw the trailer i thought that its going to be more adventure but ofcourse its Oscar nominated director Peter Weir. its a slow paced epic survival adventure story. as i said it is slow paced but very good. i liked it so much, i loved it actually. for me iits the first good movie of this year. but not extremely good, lol. Peter Weir may slightly disappoint you with this movie. it is not like anything he ever did, kind of. but this movie had a great affect on me, seeing these people battle with the harsh conditions and try to survive really made me feel how lucky i am that i did not have to do these things. this movie is very effective and it has been very long since anything of this sort has been made. talking about performances so they are just exactly how they should be doing but not so excellent or top notch. Jim Strugess is someone whom i like very much he has this young charm to him, here he is fine, he did a nice job. he plays this kind of leader and intelligent educated guy in this movie. Ed Harris did a very good job, he plays ofcourse the senior most guy in this tribe. he is above average. Colin Farrell is not much seen but he did astonishingly good performance which is shocking. the character he plays generally makes the actors perform very naturally, his character is same to the Juliette Lewis's character in Conviction, he is not much seen but he is awsome. the most limited screen time among them exactly goes to the young girl, lol, Saoirse Ronan, i wished she should have performed well. i don't know but i did not liked her. her character was not written that well. she was just used as a screen filler. i felt like she is a last minute addition to this movie. Direction of this movie is very good, perfect i would say. screenplay is good but could have been slight better. some minute problems are there with it. cinematography is to die for, shooting in exactly different locations from dessert to freezing snowy areas to jungles and grasslands. just outstanding, awsome photography. editing is good, art direction and costumes are fine. well i liked this movie so much, there isn't so much in the movie all in all in places but still you get thrill and adventure which is good. the characters background are not much shown, their backdrop but still you get in their veins. this film just got one nomination, the deserved one, Best Make up, which is very good in this movie. but seriously i got effected by this movie but not emotionally. i didn't cried or got much emotional in some scenes of their sufferings. this is an epic movie with a slow paced plot. i liked it. and so will you.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (6):

As he did in the excellent Master and Commander, Australian director Peter Weir makes this wartime tale a sleek, rousing, old-fashioned adventure instead of a somber, self-important epic slog. He accomplishes that by focusing on the relationships between the men and taking a cue from old-time studio filmmakers like Howard Hawks.

THE WAY BACK is arguably less fun than Master and Commander, mainly because of the disturbing imagery (i.e. starvation, sickness, death, etc.) that inherently goes with prison movies and wilderness survival movies. But Weir makes it all bearable with his general swiftness and tone. The actors follow suit with warm performances from everyone involved, especially Farrell as a dangerous but boisterous misfit. In the end, teamwork, sharing, and kindness win out over violence and cruelty.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate