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The Way Back

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United States, Canada · 2020
1h 47m
Director Gavin O'Connor
Starring Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Michaela Watkins, Janina Gavankar
Genre Drama

Jack Cunningham is an alcoholic construction worker who has lost everything and spends his evenings at dive bars. He gets the chance to turn his life around when he is offered the opportunity to coach a basketball team at the high school where he was once an all-star player himself.

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What are critics saying?


The Film Stage by

The Way Back shares those convictions and themes, but its greatest asset is its honesty.


The New York Times by Ben Kenigsberg

The movie withholds a crucial bit of back story in early scenes only to drop it like an anvil later on. Since the revelation is known to the characters the whole time, the decision to deploy it as a surprise is cheap and shameless — a blatant foul in a movie otherwise filled with smoothly executed plays.


The Guardian by Benjamin Lee

It sleepily hits the beats we expect but without the emotion or passion required to make them land, a by-the-numbers exercise from someone with barely enough energy to count.


The A.V. Club by Charles Bramesco

Between the known metatext and Affleck’s bone-deep commitment, this moving central performance largely purges the film of its high potential for the maudlin.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

Winning and losing are relative terms, but this is the first time in forever that Affleck feels like he’s got skin in the game.


Entertainment Weekly by Leah Greenblatt

Affleck keeps the movie anchored with his rumpled, unshowy performance: a man killing himself to live, until he can start to believe that maybe there's a better way.


Variety by Owen Gleiberman

I’d love to see Affleck star in a film about an addict with nothing to explain his addiction but his own flawed, desperate, hungry soul. That’s a movie that could speak to us — the way that Ben Affleck’s real story already does — far more than this modestly well-made Sunday-school lesson.


Screen Daily by Tim Grierson

Often in sports, teams run the same plays over and over again, simply because they work. That’s true of The Way Back as well: We appreciate the expert skill, even if we know almost every move by heart.


The Hollywood Reporter by Todd McCarthy

Affleck gives the impression of intimate familiarity with the anguish and self-disgust that dominate Jack’s life; this character and project clearly meant something important to him, as the title bluntly suggests, and he gives it his all without overdoing the melodrama.


IGN by Witney Seibold

The Way Back is a somber sports drama more interested in exploring the plight of its hero than in just the big games.

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