Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: Now

The Way Back Review Critics


Dave White Profile

No walk in the park... Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Completely exhausting and no pay-off Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Most of those hardships are familiar to movie lovers; that's a reductionist view of a serious and ambitious production, but it is, after all, a movie on a screen. (And a movie with a dreadfully clumsy ending.)

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The Way Back, with its epic story and spectacularly bleak setting, invites comparisons with "Laurence of Arabia" and "Dr. Zhivago." It's awash in vast, unforgiving terrain. So it got the setting right, but not necessarily the substance.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    It's also filled with scenes of extraordinary survival challenges. But the result is oddly impersonal and undifferentiated.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Stephen Farber

    Beyond its visual splendors, however, the film achieves searing moral power.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Way Back reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Rousing but intense war/wilderness survival adventure.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that because this rousing, World War II-era adventure film focuses on prison and wilderness survival, there's plenty of intense, disturbing imagery -- such as blood, sickness, starvation, and death. But at the same time, the movie has strong, inspiring messages related to teamwork, kindness, and overcoming challenges. Expect a bit of violence and infrequent but strong swearing (including "f--k"), as well as images of naked women in the form of drawings used as prison currency. Characters also trade cigarettes while they're imprisoned and, in one scene, share a bottle of vodka.

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence and disturbing imagery. Was it necessary to the plot? Was it thrilling or upsetting? How did the movie achieve that reaction?
  • How do the characters change over the course of the movie? What do they learn?
  • Some of the male characters think that bringing a girl (Irena) along will slow them down. Is this a stereotype? Does Irena prove them wrong, or not? What do they learn from her?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The characters may be prisoners (and some of them do seem violent and dangerous), but they quickly learn to work together, help each other, and trust each other to overcome their nearly impossible challenges. There are plenty of examples of teamwork and empathy here.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Main character Janusz is the strongest role model. At one point, another character warns that "kindness can kill him," but Janusz proves that he can hang onto his humanity and his kindness in the most trying of circumstances. He'll risk his own safety to help others, and his example inspires the others. Plenty of sharing and working together to overcome the odds.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Disturbing imagery relating to both prison and wilderness survival. Characters are starving and thirsty, exhausted and dirty. Teeth fall out, feet are bleeding and/or swollen, and characters get sunstroke. Other brief violence involves a stabbing with a knife and some blood. A character freezes to death. There's a spoken story about a main character strangling a boy.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Very brief but strong sexual imagery. One of the prisoners makes drawings of naked women in various poses and trades them for supplies.

  • language false3

    Language: Language is infrequent but includes more than one use of "f--k," plus sparing use of "s--t," "damn," and "ass."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters trade cigarettes in prison, but there's little actual smoking. In one scene, characters share a bottle of vodka around a campfire.