Go His Own Way (Movie Thoughts: The Way Back)

27e79b_e3a62c5e391f4cef98571985123a5a1c_mv2I’ve been meaning to watch ‘The Way Back’ for a while. But i felt like I needed to be in the right mood for it. It’s a sports movie, I know, and I am not the biggest sports fan. It focuses on Jack Cunningham, played by Ben Affleck, who is asked to coach a team – he was the school’s basketball hero of years past, and he seems to be wallowing in darker times – he has been drinking a lot. And of course, Jack instills discipline in these players and the team makes a comeback – the film follows that formula. But half of the film is also another kind of formula – the addict recovery one – Cunningham has to hit rock bottom in order for him to get back up. Will two formulas make for a good film? Well, first, it has to make you believe, and Affleck is incredible here, giving a quiet nuanced performance. This piece could have been a showy vehicle for someone, but Affleck is pulled back, as we get to see his hollowness filled with life little by little. I can;’t remember the last time I saw a ben Affleck film  (Gone Girl, maybe) but he towers and lords over this film, and in an assured way. He looks different, giving us daddy bear vibes, but we never not believe Jack Cunningham journey even as the writing brings us back to formula over and over.

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