THE WAY BACK – “Formulaic? Yes. Heartfelt? Very.”
Gavin O'Connor (The Accountant - 2016)
- Ben Affleck as Jack Cunningham
- Al Madrigal as Dan
- Michaela Watkins as Beth
- Janina Gavankar as Angela
- Glynn Turman as Doc
- Brandon Wilson as Brandon Durrett
A former basketball player who turned down a scholarship to the perennial power house college basketball program, the University of Kansas, now an adult struggling with alcoholism, is offered a coaching job at his alma mater. As the team starts to win, he may have a reason to confront his old demons.
Formulaic? Yes. Heartfelt? Very! The Way Back is a movie we’ve all seen a million times – a story of redemption and overcoming the odds to get a second lease on life. Luckily, those movies never go out of style, and if they are done right, serve as quality feel good cinematic inspiration. The Way Back is one of those movies done right. For one, Affleck is a genuine wonder to watch here, as he brings effortless believability to the role by showcasing a real sense of stubbornness and vulnerability. He plays a broken man with lots of vices (most in the form of a bottle), but he’s also got a big heart and a will to see others succeed. Did his real life “tabloid tribulations” influence his onscreen portrayal? Who knows. It’s one heck of a personal performance either way. In addition to Affleck’s acting achievements, the sports element in the film (the down in the dumps high school basketball team in need of a new coach and some W’s) is also done quite well. Sure we get the usual rag tag of players in major need of guidance, but again, it all works. In fact, their journey from unrefined underdogs to formidable contenders is exciting, inspiring, and downright entertaining. So, if you are watching for the basketball portion of things, you won’t be disappointed. Nor will you be with the profound drama that goes along with it.