The Way Back (2020) Movie Review
Addiction is a terrible thing. Even if we don't realize it, we all have an addiction to something, whether it be food or shopping or alcohol or drugs. Anything can be a drug. Our phones have become drugs in a way. Overcoming those addictions are hard but with the right help and the right support system, we can break free and find our true selves again. The Way Back is a perfect example of how addiction can take over our lives, and often it's born from a traumatic experience.
The film follows Jack Cunningham, an ex-basketball player who could have had a shot at a scholarship but instead walked away from the game. He started working construction, got married and had a kid. After a horrible tragedy, Jack turned to alcohol, becoming an addict. Now, years later, he's offered a coaching position over the basketball team at his old school. Maybe, just maybe, this job will give him the shot at redemption he needs.
Mostly, the film hit all the marks that it needed to. There's only two negative comments that I have and I'll do my best to keep them spoiler-free. First, there's a point in the film where it seems like Jack has given up alcohol but the subject is just dropped for a good hour. An addict can't just quit his addiction cold turkey without having side effects. We never saw him go through withdrawals nor did we see him taking further steps to stay away from his addiction. It gave off the impression that giving up an addiction is easy and anyone can do it. It's not easy. It takes a lot of work and dedication. I just found that to be a missed opportunity. The second negative is the fact that the film did hit emotionally as hard as it could have. There were a couple powerful moments that felt dry and didn't move me like I needed to be moved. I need to feel for the characters and be able to sympathize with them. The story was all there and it was written and acted well but that heartfelt element wasn't there and that's a true shame.
The positives, however, far outweigh the negatives. The story was true to life and was told in an honest way that made you relate to Jack and what he was going through. Ben Affleck was struggling with alcoholism himself while making this film and he still had the strength to go to rehab and better himself. I find that to be a brave move on his part and it made the film a powerful motivator to others who are struggling.
In conclusion, I was mostly happy with the film. The story, directing, and acting were all on point and sent the message it needed to send. I only wish the film had gone further in-depth and had the heart it was missing. I give the film a 3 out of 4.
© 2020 Nathan Jasper