The Way Back is simply as lazy and uninteresting because the title suggests. Elements of the storytelling and cinematography are jumbled right into a slapdash mess with innocuous emotional depth.
Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) is a grieving alcoholic who finds himself working as the brand new head coach of his Catholic highschool basketball workforce. His love of the game breathes some fireplace again into his life and into these of his gamers. But his impetuous mentoring program immediately clashes with the college’s Christian virtue-based instructing methodology, to not point out Jack’s nightly blackout-drunk bar crawl.
Directed by Gavin O’Conner, the story is riddled with pitfalls from which the movie doesn’t get better. It depends on a number of tropes and bits which can be, to place it bluntly, low-cost and nonsensical.
For starters, the operating “comedic” bits to alleviate an assumed pressure are horrendously written and carried out. Kenny (Will Ropp) is a participant constantly utilized as a operating joke as a result of he’s extra centered on the women earlier than game time. It is bland storytelling that’s wholly unfunny. The movie shamelessly provides his character about the identical quantity of inclusion as Jack’s spouse Angela (Janina Gavankar).
Jack’s constant stream of profanities and the sly cuts to the priest’s grumpy response is one more instance of the lazy storytelling. The cursing is initially used as a way for laughs, however then as a set-up for the overly dramatic unveiling that there are worse issues in Christendom than profanity – like alcoholism. The set-up is past tawdry, particularly provided that the movie by no means goes very deep with Jack’s emotional reference to alcoholism – save for a short counselor’s scene.
Instead, The Way Back prefers Jack to exorcise his demons through machismo and being robust on his gamers. The movie doesn’t even try and condemn his strategies both. The gamers reiterate his mantra of enjoying with a chip on their shoulder within the ultimate game. While aiming to come back throughout as inspirational by its finish, many viewers will as a substitute see that characters have discovered and exhibited poisonous habits handed all the way down to them from their coach.
Moreover, the relationships amongst Jack, Brandon (Brandon Wilson), and Marcus (Melvin Gregg) might be seen as selling a white savior advanced. With Brandon, Jack makes him a frontrunner and will get his father to lastly come to a game. With Marcus, Jack punishes him for his shortcomings earlier than letting him again on the workforce. The absent black father and the “knight in white shining armor” are drained tropes greatest left up to now.
The Way Back is basically a poor man’s Manchester By the Sea. Identical story components exist in each: a drunk, grieving, and indignant man compelled to mildew the lives of youthful males. But whereas Manchester grapples with the enormity and irrevocable injury of grief, The Way Back insists on seeing itself out of the darkness. This comes with the territory of the sports-drama style that in the end wants a constructive end result. But the standard, inspirational mechanisms of the style are at odds with the ideas of grief and melancholy that aren’t simply gained over.
The camerawork in The Way Back is one other disorganized predicament. Several occasions all through the movie, the digicam will zoom-in throughout an emotional scene, like when Jack finds out his ex-wife is with another person. It’s an apparent and heavy-handed strategy to push the emotion on a scene that doesn’t require it.
Another odd tactic is the frequent use of freeze frames through the basketball games. Again, it’s a staple of sports activities movies however one might discover it too kitschy right here. Still, the digicam captures the setting fantastically. The hazy backdrops of oil rigs, water and town are fairly breathtaking in actual fact.
Unfortunately for The Way Back, a stupendous backdrop doesn’t make a movie. Alcoholism and the demise of a cherished one are meaty topics, however the movie doesn’t attain a lofty emotional response it hoped for.