The Way Back review by Bobby Blakey
Over the years Ben Affleck has cemented himself as a prolific director and in my opinion it has made him an even better actor. He has had his ups and downs at the box office and in life, but his latest, The Way Back reteams him with The Accountant director James Gavin O’Connor and looks to be his most personal journey yet. Could this be another winning feature for this duo or will it fail to make the shot?
The Way Back follows Jack Cunningham who once had a life filled with promise. In high school, he was a basketball phenom with a full university scholarship, when suddenly, for reasons unknown, he walked away from the game, forfeiting his future. Now years later, Jack is spiraling down, triggered by an unspeakable loss, 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, he reluctantly accepts, surprising no one more than himself. As the boys start 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?
I have always loved Ben Affleck even before his bigger directing efforts. Knowing his personal issues over the years I was all the more intrigued by his role here focused on some similar issues he has had to fight through. While I hate he has had to deal with this I think it has also made his performance here all the more powerful in easily one of the best performances of his career. I expected the sports journey part of it to be a bit more front and center, but this film is about something bigger than that a second chance. The entire films aspect serves as an ongoing metaphor for both the team’s journey and his.
I know some have had an issue that they gave him a reason for his alcoholism,
but as someone who has dealt with the exact same issue he does in the film it hit home. I never found myself dealing with it in this way, but relate to his feelings and the struggle to find a way to get beyond it and deal with it. I saw my past in his performance and in turn made it all the more powerful to me that I hope shines through others as well that thankfully haven’t had to deal with this sort of loss.
This is one of those films that has a lot of layers and will get you fully invested in the sports side, but make no mistake it’s about something bigger than any game on the court. I wasn’t aware of what I was going into and it hit me pretty deep, but that also tells me it is a powerful story that I hope people get out there and see. Major props to Affleck for taking on this role at all as it had to be hard, but I hope it was also therapeutic in his own personal journey to recovery.
In addition to the film this release features bonus content including featurettes taking you behind bringing this story to the big screen. Grab your copy of The Way Back available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.