Unfortunately, the characterizations are not really as vivid as in Weir's previous movies, partly because it has to deal with so many characters constantly in focus at the same time. Jim Sturgess plays the protagonist of the story, a decent young man who was imprisoned by the soviets after they tortured his wife to make her testify against him. He's the core of the movie, leading the ensemble of actors and holding the moral compass of the movie in his hands. Ed Harris' wonderful performance as the cynical american prisoner becomes part of the movie's emotional core and he's used to great effect in a couple of scenes. Colin Farrel's raggedy thug is a colorful character, but not very memorable, apart from his occasional overacting. Saoirse Ronan proves once again that she has a bright future in cinema, but, her character, a young girl the group meets in Russia some time after their escape, is used as a sort of probe into each character's backstory, as she inquires a lot and helps the men know more about each other. Her role in the move quickly becomes nothing more than a screenplay writing gimmick. Dragos Bucur is also effective as Zoran, an accountant and funny man of the seven. The director cleverly avoids using him as comic relief. He cracks jokes, but you don't get the feeling that they're meant to be one-liners. He simply lightens the mood a bit, and they sure need it.
So, to sum it up, Weir's movie is a competent epic from a technical point of view and the acting is on par. The weaker side of the movie comes from the script, that seemed to have a hard time juggling the survival story and the characters at the same time. The story is certainly strong enough to sell itself, but the lack of stronger character portraits in a movie like this means that the viewer is left without an emotional anchor throughout the events, which consequently leaves the viewer too far outside the events. Still, this an incredible story which in turn becomes a fine adventure movie, not entirely memorable, but well made and worthwhile.