‘The Way Back‘ is a sports drama directed by Gavin O’Connor and written by Brad Ingelsby. It was made by Warner Bros. Pictures and Bron Creative, being released through streaming.
Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) is a man whose wife Angela (Janina Gavankar) has separated from due to his alcoholism. He wanders in and out of a bar every night, barely getting sober for his construction job while struggling with the loss of his son from sickness a year prior. After his sister Beth (Michaela Watkins) confronts him over his behavior, he goes on another bender. Shortly thereafter, he is approached by his old high school Bishop Hayes, to coach their floundering basketball team. Math teacher and assistant Coach Dan (Al Madrigal) is concerned with how harsh Jack is with the team, but when they start winning, his concerns start to disappear. However, will the growing problems in Jack’s personal life ruin the good he is doing on the court and off it.
I would like to say, Ben Affleck delivers a powerhouse performance. You can tell that he puts his own personal experiences into the role and that gives it an extra boost, making the film feel personal. He truly brings out the story of a man who is seeking redemption, but constantly stumbles over his own faults. It is mesmerizing and moving.
As for the overall story, it is incredibly engaging. If you watch a movie that has a redemption story, it often has a powerful moment in the third act that makes everything okay. This movie does not do that. It shows the daily struggle of getting better, then messing up, and then facing rock bottom. I also want to give kudos to the score by Rob Simonsen, who did an excellent job with the music. It truly compliments the story.
I understand that the main story was about Jack’s journey out of the hole his life is in and how through helping the kids, they help him, but, at times, I did feel like some of the stuff surrounding the basketball team’s personal drama was a bit forced. I think it felt forced because the movie did not spend a whole lot of time developing them.
Bottom line, The Way Back is a superb story of redemption that shows the realistic struggles of a man, played to perfection by Ben Affleck. His performance is Oscar-worthy. Yes, I said it and I ain’t taking it back.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Minor violence, Substance abuse
FAVORITE QUOTE: You want to know why they’re leaving you open? It’s because they don’t think you can hit the ocean from the beach.
Check out the trailer below:
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