THE WAY BACK [BLU-RAY] (2020)
SYNOPSIS: Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) once had a life filled with promise. In high school, he was a basketball phenom with a full ride to college, when suddenly, for reasons unknown, he walked away from the game, forfeiting his future. Now years later, Jack is stuck in a meaningless job and drowning in the alcoholism that cost him his marriage and any hope for a better life. When he is asked to coach the basketball team at his alma mater, which has fallen far since his glory days, he reluctantly accepts, surprising no one more than himself. As the boy starts to come together as a team and win, Jack may have finally found a reason to confront the demons that have derailed him. But will it be enough to fill the void, heal the deep wounds of his past, and set him on the road to redemption?
Although the trailers portray The Way Back as sort of a basketball sports movie, it is actually a redemption drama about a man named Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) who is trying to find his way back to life after losing his son and separating from the wife he loved.
Jack Cunningham in short is a broken man. He drinks on the way to work, during work and after work. He is basically an alcoholic in desperate need of help until one day he is asked to step in as the basketball coach at his former high school, Bishop Hayes. Despite being a star player in his younger days, the basketball team at Jack’s former school is trailing far behind others. Jack’s mission is to bring his team to the playoffs at the same time, struggles to battle his own inner demons.
Ben Affleck is front, left, right and center in The Way Back. He is extremely solid as an alcoholic probably because of his own real-life’s struggles and rehab (the tabloids will tell you a lot) which make his performance even more relatable and believable. All the anguish, sorrow and pain of Jack Cunningham is well conveyed through the eyes of Affleck marking one of his best on-screen performances of all time.
The plotting of The Way Back however is rather formulaic. The supporting characters like Jack’s ex-wife (Janina Gavankar) feels weak; the same goes for Dan, the assistant coach and a few of Jack’s students. The movie is crammed with subplots that feel predictable, cliché and less compelling compared to Jack’s story arc. Ultimately, Brad Ingelsby's screenplay is hardly refreshing or new, it’s wrapped around Affleck’s performance and that alone carries more weight than the entire movie.
Gavin O’Connor who worked with Affleck in The Accountant delivered a mature, well-made drama despite the rather mediocre material. It should be as emotionally satisfying as his earlier MMA movie, Warrior but unfortunately offers too little surprises. We swear this is a movie that is best watched with Affleck in mind.
The Way Back: This Sporting Life is a segment that has Affleck, O’Connor and members of the cast talk about the sports film genre.
Every Loss is Another Fight: The Road to Redemption that briefly discussed about alcoholism and Affleck’s own struggles.
The Dolby True-HD 7.1 soundtrack is an overkill for a movie liked The Way Back. It simply offers a few select scenes of crowd ambience and a barrage of Cunningham’s swearing and cussing. Visual quality is serviceable with the exception of several (maybe intended) low-lit moments. Again, this is not a title to showcase your fancy soundbar or 4K UHD television.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee