The Way Back (2020) Film Review

How the lead’s real-life past showcases the struggles of alcoholism

Ben Affleck’s latest sports-drama gives a heart-filled performance from the real-life struggles Affleck experiences that shines through every scene. Though predictable, the film does a great job displaying a classic tale regardless and is a great emotional rollercoaster.

Affleck plays Jack Cunningham, a troubled man with a promising career in basketball who loses his way, struggling to live with his alcoholism due to a tragic loss. He finds his way back when he’s offered a position coaching a basketball team at his old high school.

The centrepiece most people can take away from this movie is the continuous struggle the character goes through due to his intake of alcohol and how much of a crutch it is for him. The continuous trips to the bar don’t feel fake due to the Afflecks repeated, documented visits to rehab which are clearly channelled here. It’s unfortunate that he had gone through that in the first place, however, the depth that he conveyed with his performance is fantastic and he holds the entire film on his back.

The plot is also fantastic. Yes, it does follow a by-the-book sports formula that anyone who’s ever seen a sports film can predict a mile away, but, both the back story and ending does slightly change that formula. It was a bit anti-climatic but does stray away enough to give it an original concept. The acting from the rest of the cast is great as well but does take a back seat to Affleck’s character.

The pacing shines through as well, having the basketball games themselves creating great moments of suspense. There are a couple of themes that they do attempt to play, yet they never really commit to any of them, not including the alcoholism. The cinematography, editing, and the soundtrack really don’t strike gold and are just serviceable enough to pass by as average.

The Way Back isn’t Remember the Titans by any stretch, but with there being limited releases in theatres as of late due to the coronavirus, it is by far the best film in theatres recently. And with its great acting coming from Affleck and it’s not so predictable ending, it earns a viewing or two.