The Way Back; Life is More Than Just a Game. Grade: B
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
The Way Back tells a story about former high school basketball star Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck), whom is now a has been construction worker, whom is also an alcoholic. Jack gets a call from his former high school, asking if he would like to coach the team, whom is not very good but need a new head coach due to the current one having a heart attack. About ten drinks later... Jack accepts the offer, as he becomes the head coach.
The Cinematography was fine, typical studio looking film, nothing really spectacular in visuals. The Score was fine as well, I remembered the music was fairly enjoyable while watching. The cast all in all was solid. Ben Affleck playing Jack Cunningham had a pretty damn good performance in this film. You can tell this performance was very personal for Ben, as even the tears from his eyes felt completely real, a very passionate and compelling performance. Jack Cunningham as written is a solid character that we do indeed care about him and root him. I think when it comes to anyone with an alcohol problem, we always want them to over come their demons with it no matter whom it is, no one wants to see anyone suffer from that abusive substance. What I liked about the marketing for this film is the fact it didn't give away to why Jack went to overly abusing alcohol, there is more to it than just his issue with his father in the past, which led him to quit basketball. I felt the rest of the supporting cast was solid as well, I kind of agreed with Chris Stuckmann in regarding his point of view with the lack of characterization with the other characters. Other than Jack's ex wife and the starting PG of the team, we really know nothing about any other character only the small things.
I do have another issue with The Way Back is that it follows familiar tropes with other sports related films, we're all so accustom to see. Also I didn't like the fact some basketball games were roughly shown in the beginning and even the last game, thought the basketball footage should've been better.
I've become a fan of Gavin O'Conner films including his earlier work in Miracle, to one of the best sports films I've seen in the last decade with Warrior, to his last work The Accountant. Sadly enough The Way Back is indeed my last film watched in a theater before this drought hits, as do I say... At least we went out on a high note, this was a solid sports film. I felt the main theme of this film really portrays with a simple sentence: Life is more than just a game. The ending puts the icing on the cake, as this film is more towards the recovery of Jack Cunningham than just a basketball movie. As earlier I discussed familiar tropes, with this film it does something particular new as it doesn't end like your typical sports film would. A sad yet very touching feel good end that'll make hope that you too can recover from being addicted to an unhealthy substance. A fairly well written script and a well interesting character study on Jack Cunningham as well. This film will work for not only sports lovers, but film lovers will find a great amount to enjoy from it as well.
Overall, The Way Back is a solid film. I recommend this film, may not be Gavin O'Connor's best, but still is worth watching. Given the fact Regal Cinemas has just announced all theaters will close starting tomorrow St. Patrick’s Day and soon theaters will follow as well... No point in giving a health warning, as there is no way any of you can make it out to a theater, thankfully we needed that. Hope you all have a great St. Patricks Day, May God Bless All of You, Stay Safe and look forward to an important message soon. -Mitch Smietana