THE WAY BACK Review — Ben Affleck is Moving in This Surprising Double-Redemption Film

Share this:

The Way Back review — Ben Affleck’s very personal film does’t go as expected.

The Way Back ReviewFrom the outside, the trailer or the score, you might get the impression that The Way Back is your typical redemption film, where a drunk with a heart of gold hits rock bottom, then has a religious/rehab epiphany and changes his wanton ways to become a humble pillar of the community. Or perhaps you get the impression it’s another underdog sports movie where a losing team gets whipped into shape, beats the bullies that harassed them and against all odds wins a national championship.

The Way Back is none of the above, which will relieve or disappoint people in equal measures. I for one, am respectful that this film is not a tired cliche. The fact that it’s rated R should clue you in that it’s not a film for which church groups will be loading up the buses. It’s a gritty and sometimes ugly look at a particular segment of a messy and conflicted man’s life, and it’s not based on an inspiring true story, which somehow makes it feel more real.

Oh, there are some lighter moments — it’s always nice to see an underrated, under-coached high school team pull itself together. But even that journey is thrown a curve or two, especially when it comes to the foul-mouthed coach Jack Cunningham, played with power and sincerity by Ben Affleck.

Affleck carries the film on his beefy shoulders, and it’s no secret that he relates to addict’s journey on the rocky road to redemption. He is adroitly directed by Gavin O’Connor, who worked so well with him in The Accountant, and is no stranger to underdog sports movies, ie Warrior and Miracle. It’s surprisingly good film, in spite of the schmaltzy score that broadcasts every action and feeling well before they occur on screen. Sorry, but it had to be said.

If it’s an inspiring, heart-warming, feel good film you seek, you might want to look in another direction. But if it’s a gut-wrenching look at the human condition, that is not without its bright shining moments, this one’s for you.

Rated R

1 Hour 48 Minutes

If this The Way Back review moves you to see it, get times and tickets at

See makeovers of celebrity homes in Beverly Hills and celebrity homes in Hollywood.

See the latest movie reviews

See the latest TV news

All on At Home In Hollywood

The Way Back review — Ben Affleck’s very personal film does’t go as expected.


Share this:

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and seen on Rotten Tomatoes. She is the author of three bestselling books, and spends as much of her free time as possible with her husband Jim and her jolly therapy Labradoodle Frankie Feldman.


  1. […] would have known about these hilarious inventions for drinking while you bathe when he was filming The Way Back! Those crazy guys at 30 Watt have come up with the ultimate joke gift, the Sipski, a wine glass […]

  2. […] actually quite surprised that A-listers like Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck and Ridley Scott would waste their considerable talent and reputations on such an ill-advised, […]

Leave a Comment

The Latest

CORA BORA Review — Gen Z Will Love It, But Boomers Beware

I SAW THE TV GLOW Review — Quietly Illuminating

FURIOSA Review — Phenomenal 5th in a Full Throttle Franchise

EAST BAY Review – Intriguing Lo-Fi Sci-Fi

IF Review — A Magical, Moving and Marvelous Film for the Whole Family

KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Review — The 10th Installment Falls Flat

THE IDEA OF YOU Review — A Romance for the Ages

THE FALL GUY Review — Can Any Film Endure This Much Hype?

WE GROWN NOW Review — Both Moving and Profound

CHALLENGERS Review — Not in Love Love