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The Survivor: release date, reviews trailer and everything we know about TV movie

Ben Foster as Harry Haft with Nazis goading him on in The Survivor
Ben Foster in The Survivor (Image credit: Leo Pinter/HBO)

The Survivor is set to be the latest in a long line of high profile HBO original movies, with this most recent TV movie coming from director Barry Levinson and featuring an all-star cast led by Ben Foster. They all have come together to tell the story of Harry Haft, a professional boxer and Holocaust survivor.

HBO’s reputation as the home for prestige TV goes beyond its original series, but also includes its impressive list of TV movies. Among some of the most notable outings were Wit, *61, Burn My Heart at Wounded Knee, Recount, You Don’t Know Jack, Game Change, Behind the Candelabra, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Bad Education and more. The Survivor now joins their ranks.

Here is everything you need to know about The Survivor.

When is The Survivor release date?

The Survivor premieres on Wednesday, April 27, at 8 pm ET/PT in the US. The movie will be available simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming service. See what else is new on HBO Max in April right here.

There is currently no information on if/when it will get a UK release, though most HBO titles do premiere on Sky (opens in new tab)/NOW TV, so worth keeping an eye out on those services.

April 27 is a significant date, as it is Yom HaShoah in Israel, a day of remembrance for the Holocaust.

The Survivor reviews — what the critics are saying?

Reviews for The Survivor are in and are mostly positive. The movie currently (as of April 27) scores a73% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) and a 71 "Good" on Metacritic (opens in new tab). Foster's performance is the biggest point of praise it seems, for better and worse, with the Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times (opens in new tab) writing, "we believe every frame of this performance," and IndieWire (opens in new tab)'s David Ehrlich writing, "Foster's performance is ultimately the only thing that holds The Survivor together."

What is The Survivor plot?

Ben Foster as Harry Haft sparring in a mirror in The Survivor

Ben Foster in The Survivor (Image credit: Jessica Kourkounis/HBO)

Based on the book, Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano (opens in new tab), The Survivor tells the story of Harry Haft’s experience in concentration camps during World War II. Here is the official synopsis from HBO:

"The Survivor is based on the incredible true story of Harry Haft, who, after being sent to Auschwitz, survives not only the unspeakable horrors of the camp, but the gladiatorial boxing spectacle he is forced to perform with his fellow prisoners for the amusement of his captors. Unbeknownst to those who try to destroy him, Haft is driven by the most important reason any man has to survive, a quest to reunite with the woman he loves. After a daring escape, he makes his way to New York, where he succeeds in using his boxing skills to establish a name for himself in the hopes of finding his one true love. His indomitable spirit lands him in the ring with boxing legends like Rocky Marciano as he fights to make sense of his past and reclaim the life that was stolen from him."

The Survivor trailer

HBO has released the official trailer for The Survivor, featuring what looks to be a great Ben Foster performance and teases a supporting cast filled with big names. Check out the trailer right here: 

Who is in The Survivor cast?

Ben Foster sits in a boxing ring with Billy Magnussen, dressed as a Nazi, speaking to him in The Survivor

Ben Foster and Billy Magnussen in The Survivor (Image credit: Leo Pinter/HBO)

Ben Foster stars in The Survivor as Harry Haft. While Foster may not be the most recognizable name in Hollywood, he has put together some fantastic performances throughout his career in movies like Leave No Trace, Hell or High Water, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, The Messenger and 3:10 to Yuma that make him a very respected talent. The Survivor also marks a reunion between Foster and director Barry Levinson, with the two previously working together on the 1999 movie Liberty Heights

Foster looks like he will have a busy 2022. In addition to The Survivor, he stars in The Contractor and Netflix’s Hustle, as well as Medieval and Emancipation, which are expected in 2022 but don’t have release dates as of yet.

The Survivor supporting cast is pretty well stacked also. Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Billy Magnussen (No Time to Die), Peter Sarsgaard (The Batman), John Leguizamo (Encanto) and Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) all star. Rounding out the cast are Saro Emirez (Wilsberg), Dar Zuzovsky (Hostages), Paul Bates (Coming 2 America) and Anthony Molinari (Perry Mason).

Here is who everyone is playing in The Survivor:

  •  Ben Foster as Harry Haft
  • Vicky Krieps as Miriam Wofsoniker
  • Billy Magnussen as Schneider
  • Peter Sarsgaard as Emory Anderson
  • John Leguizamo as Pepe
  • Danny DeVito as Charlie Goodman
  • Saro Emirez as Peretz Haft
  • Dar Zuzovsky as Leah
  • Paul Bates as Louis Barclay
  • Anthony Molinari as Rocky Marciano

Vicky Krieps and Ben Foster look at each other in The Survivor

Vicky Krieps and Ben Foster in The Survivor (Image credit: Jessica Kourkounis/HBO)

Who is directing The Survivor?

Barry Levinson is the director of The Survivor. Levinson has been a Hollywood fixture for a long time, making his feature directing debut with 1982’s Diner, winning an Oscar for Best Director for 1988’s Rain Man and directing other notable movies like The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam and Wag the Dog.

Levinson also has a strong relationship with HBO, directing previous HBO original movies You Don’t Know Jack, The Wizard of Lies and Paterno, all of which received Emmy nominations.

Barry Levinson directs behind the scenes of The Survivor

Barry Levinson on the set of The Survivor (Image credit: Jessica Kourkounis/HBO)

The Survivor will be Levinson’s first movie directing gig since Paterno, though he did direct episodes of 2021’s Dopesick.

How to watch The Survivor

There are a few ways to watch The Survivor.

The first will be to watch it live on TV. HBO is a premium cable channel. It is included in many traditional pay-TV subscription services, though it will depend on your plan so be sure to double check if HBO is part of your channel lineup.

The other option is watching the movie on HBO Max (opens in new tab). If you have the traditional HBO you automatically have access to the streaming service, but consumers can also sign up for HBO Max as a standalone service. HBO Max is also available as an add-on channel for live TV streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV.

With HBO Max, you will be able to stream The Survivor as soon as it premieres on HBO, as well as any time after its premiere.

Michael Balderston
Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.