...a harrowing epic that will not be an easy sell, but it finds Weir again working at the top of his game.
—Stephen Farber Hollywood Reporter
...a riveting tale that clings bravely to the integrity of its storytelling, even at the risk of emotional remoteness. It's the journey that counts, and Weir makes you feel it in your bones.
—Peter Travers Rolling Stone
...an impressive but not especially immersive true story...
—Peter Debruge Variety
Ending in 1989 with the fall of Communism and thus positioned as a Cold War allegory, The Way Back remains a grueling trip?true story or not.
—J. Hoberman Village Voice
...a good movie that should have been a classic, considering its ingredients -- the respect for majesty from Master and Commander director Peter Weir and the horror of the communist gulag, perhaps the most monumental subject still virtually unexplored in big-budget movies.
—Kyle Smith New York Post
...the result is oddly impersonal and undifferentiated...
—Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly
The film exhibits an admirable determination to do justice to a real story, but the story's not real.
—Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times
So it got the setting right, but not necessarily the substance. Even when not being compared with those classics, it falls short in character development.
—Claudia Puig USA Today
By staking a claim on the historical record, Mr. Weir needlessly burdens his story, investing it with an expectation of brute truth that this overly temperate film doesn't want to meet.
—Manohla Dargis New York Times
...a decent landscape picture overburdened by the demands of narrative.
—Andrew Schenker Slant Magazine