Sunday, January 23, 2011
The Way Back
Australian director Peter Weir ('Witness', 'The Truman Show', 'Dead Poets Society', 'The Mosquito Coast', 'Master and Commander') directed this powerful, emotional, and inspiring film based on a true story of a group of men plotting an escape from a Siberian prison camp during World War II. Besides the obvious problem of escaping their captors, they have a 4,000 mile journey ahead of them, crossing mountains and deserts, where the extreme weather conditions and lack of food and water is their worst enemy. The cast includes the always watchable Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, and Mark Strong.
I couldn't help but feel that I've seen this movie before. It's 'The Great Escape' meets 'Survivor' meets 'The Lord of the Rings'. (Well, kind of). And it plays out in a fairly predictable, formulaic way. But, the performances are so strong and their journey is so intense that it is still absolutely worth seeing. At almost 2 hours and 15 minutes it could have felt long, but it didn't at all. I was completely entranced and blown away by the wills of these men just to survive. It will make you grateful for what you have and what you don't have to go through, and made me feel particularly bad about complaining to myself a few hours earlier about how cold my 20 minute walk to the theater was. It's hard to imagine enduring much, much, much worse conditions for months. Even the cast looked like they had a pretty rough shoot. (But, to be fair, I didn't bring a hat on my journey. I mean, not even earmuffs!)
Despite the fact this film just opened wide last Friday, it opened in L.A. on 12/29 so it still qualifies as a 2010 release. So it looks like my Top 26 just became a Top 27.