The Way Back [2010]

Peter Weir’s latest film tells the man-against-the-elements story of a group of prisoners who walk 4000 miles to India after escaping a Siberian gulag, facing harsh weather. Harsh is probably an understatement. Freezing cold, searing heat, snowstorms, sandstorms, bugs; the effects of these conditions are showcased masterfully with the Oscar-nominated makeup by Edouard Henriques, Greg Funk and Yolanda Toussieng. The cinematography is also remarkable. Spectacular wide shots of the snow-covered Russian landscape, or the sandy, hot-as-hell Gobi Desert show that the journey was definitely not an easy task. Despite the tragic circumstances (and the appealing imagery), The Way Back is mostly uneventful and never really involving. The cast is underwhelming, and their accents dodgy. At times, that last thing doesn’t matter. Jim Sturgess speaks with his eyes, for example. On the other hand, usually stellar Colin Farrell is laughably bad. Saoirse Ronan is the best among a predominantly male cast. And I don’t know what it is about Ed Harris, but he never impresses me. I know he’s a good actor; he’s just never blown me away. At 133 minutes, the film is very, very long, yet some sequences still feel rushed.