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

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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

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


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Lisa Johnson Mandell

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 on BBC Radio.

1 Comment

  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 […]

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