Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) is a man whose life has not unfolded as it should have. A former star Basketball player for a Catholic High School; Jack had an offer to play College ball for Kansas as a highly regarded recruit.
Things unfolded badly for Jack as a personal tragedy and his demons cost him his marriage and now sees Jack toiling away in construction when he is not abusing alcohol.
Jack is offered a chance to coach the losing team at his old school and despite every inclination, he has to refuse the job; he eventually takes the job and works to mold an undersized and under-skilled team into a competitive unit.
Jack’s abrupt style and frequent profanity do not sit well with his employers who urge him to tone things down with his courtside behavior and verbal admonishments of the officials and his team during games.
Undaunted Jack presses on and the team starts to turn themselves around but Jack’s deep turmoil threatens to undo everything that has happened.
“The Way Back” is an enjoyable film that features a very strong performance from Affleck as well as the supporting cast. This is not some formulaic sports film where everything is all nice and tidy at the end. The film is about redemption but also accepting what has come before and finding a new way forward no matter how difficult.
What really made the film stand out aside from the performances were the relatable stories as they were ones that were easy to relate to. Many towns have stories of star athletes who never achieved their stardom for whatever reason and whose lives have become ordinary to mundane as opposed to the stardom and riches envisioned for them.
In many ways “The Way Back” flew under the radar this year but is one of the best films of the year and one not to miss.
4 stars out of 5