DVD: The Way Back (12)

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The Independent Culture

"Nature is your jailer and she has no mercy," says a guard at the gulag in which Polish prisoner Janusz (Jim Sturgess) has been imprisoned.

This prefaces the escape of six inmates in 1941, including US engineer Smith (Ed Harris) and Russian gangster Valka (a decent Colin Farrell), as they head for waters less Communist. It's a brutal journey: they head for India, survive Siberia then hit the Gobi desert and the Himalayas. Based on Slavomir Rawicz's disputed memoir, it's an at-times captivating tale – you can almost feel your mouth dry up as they battle dehydration in the Gobi – but it lacks emotional sweep, especially the damp squib of an ending.