'The Way Back' [Blu-ray + Digital]
(Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Janina Gavankar, Michaela Watkins, Brandon Wilson, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2020 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Back in high school, Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) had everything going for him. A basketball
phenom, he could have punched his ticket to college or even the pros, but, instead, he chose to walk away from the game, forfeiting his future. Jack’s glory days are long gone - but, as it turns out, not forgotten.
Years later, he gets the chance to take back his life when he is asked to coach the struggling basketball team at his alma mater. Jack reluctantly accepts, surprising no one more than himself, and as the boys start to come together as a team and win, Jack may get his last shot at redemption.
Blu-ray Verdict: There are many films where we see the train-wreck coming: Most require nothing and just show the viewers the mind-numbing wreck-to-be.
Some mentally beckon the viewer to get closer to the tracks. Others create an urgency to rush toward the train tracks in order to see. Seldom, if any, coerce us to seek higher ground.
And then there's Gavin O'Connor's 'The Way Back' which asks: "Is the wreck imminent? (OR) Will there be a wreck to see?" Once answered the prevailing question is, will they survive.
Avoiding spoiling, just think about this, please. With feelgood inspirational types of movies, how often do you know the outcome to the climactic scene? And how often are you already mentally projecting the next scene to follow?
For me, 99/100 times. In the 'TWB' those presumptions are blurred at times. There is a predictable formula, hence the word formula, but it's akin to saying "I knew it when I saw it."
Veiled as a comeback feel good movie, 'TWB)' is more of an epic portrayal of a coach struggling with addiction and loss. The notion of a flawed, heathen drug-addicted coach responsible for molding students and shaping the futures of our tomorrow is in itself laughable, and should otherwise be mocked, lambasted and ridiculed.
However, the magic of this flic is the flaws within coach (Ben Affleck) resonate strongly. Rather than cast us away, they draw us closer due to one word: intention.
A spiritually bankrupt man devoid of any soon-to-be awakening hopelessly undertakes the coaching of a HS catholic basketball team. There's an unwritten job description that comes along with the title of "coach."
That is for he/she, along with winning, is responsible for shaping futures and instilling morals. This has been the standard of many movies past and present.
Well then, 'TWB' has managed to blur those film guidelines, yet subversively adheres to them at the very same time - if that makes sense.
In closing, 'TWB' embodies the struggles of life, and how we just forget our troubles when the clock starts, and players start to do their thing.
The rush of emotions that it provides, how unmatchable and undeniably amazing that is. Ultimately though it gives a realistic hope in both sports, and in our own personal battles.
With regard the special features, in their own ways they inform us in how Affleck likes to tell stories that are relatable, and that explore characters that people could have grown up with or been their for in real life.
Affleck goes on to say that he also "rediscovered my own purpose as an actor working with these guys", all due to seeing their levels of dedication, their commitment, their excellence, their selflessness, their vulnerability, and hear them talking about their own struggles.
This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:
• Every Loss Is Another Fight: The Road to Redemption
• The Way Back: This Sporting Life
Follow the road to redemption when 'The Way Back' arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on May 19th, 2020.
Official 'The Way Back' Trailer
'The Way Back' @ Facebook