The Way Back is an endurance story that walks the distance, until the distance gets the best of it. It ends up testing the audience’s own endurance. This is to say that this story, inspired by Sławomir Rawicz’s popular book The Long Walk, depicting his alleged escape from a Siberian gulag, and subsequent 4,000-mile walk to freedom in India, goes on and on and then some. Given that it covers 4,000 miles, at over 2 hours, it may not sound like a too long of a movie, but though starting as an engaging adventure, the film loses steam in its last third and just drags on.
The performances of the cast are commendable, which help make the film interesting in its first part, and tolerable in its later part. Peter Weir is a favorable intelligent director, yet rather than covering much of the journey, a different approach could have been taken to keep the interest going, and leave the audience with a better sense of satisfaction.
The story itself, by the way, was at least partially debunked, and never proven to really happen. But regardless, even as a fictional film, in parts it can be an inspiring piece. Go with little expectations and you may enjoy good portions of it.