Finding The Way Back is the latest movie featuring Hollywood star Ben Affleck. It is a sports drama movie, directed by Gavin O’Connor and written by Brad Ingelsby. Al Madrigal, Michaela Watkins and Janina Gavankar are the other notable cast members. It follows the story of an alcoholic construction worker, who is surprisingly recruited to be the head coach of his high school’s basketball team, and the change this brings about in his life.
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The Way Back once again manages to show Affleck’s talent, with the Oscar winner showing his range in pulling off the role of a reformed alcoholic. The rest of the cast does well too, but there are also some small flaws and holes which hold the movie back at times. The camera work is shoddy and annoying, with the constant zooming and shaking being part of a bygone era, while the story could also have been a little tighter. Despite being 108 minutes long, that runtime was not used efficiently, with too much being packed into the last 15 minutes for it to make coherent sense. In contrast, the rest of the movie is too slow, with a lot of unnecessary fluff. There are quite a few sub-plots going on in the movie as well, which distract from the main story and add no value. The director would have been better served cutting some of those out and focusing on Affleck’s redemption story, giving it more time to develop instead of jamming everything into the last few minutes of the movie.
Another criticism is the fact that while this is, on the face of it, a basketball story, the sport itself has very little to do with the plot. It is a basic redemption story, and the story arc is extremely predictable, and the same story could have been told with any other plot, say a person taking a job teaching a special needs class. This makes it a little less enjoyable than it should be, since the acting and dialogue are top-notch. The movie’s score has received praise as well for adding to the drama seen in the movie, but it can also be a touch overbearing. The Way Back is also a ‘heavy’ movie, with over 80% of it being emotional in some way, so be prepared for that before settling in to watch it. Even when the sports angle does take precedence, it involves a lot of the usual sports movie tropes, especially with the coach’s interaction with the players.
A formulaic story and script is lifted by Affleck’s performance, making it a must-watch for his fans, or indeed fans of stellar acting work.
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