The Way Back: Affleck Headlines Inspirational Sports Drama

05 February, 2020

Warner Bros. releases a new trailer for sports drama The Way Back. Ben Affleck stars in the film as Jack Cunningham, a former high school basketball star who agrees to become his alma mater's head coach. Through the experience, Jack not only looks to turn a struggling program around, but also overcome his personal demons (including alcoholism). It's easy to see the parallels between Jack and Affleck's real-life battle with addiction, adding an intriguing layer that could elevate The Way Back beyond its standard "underdog story" tropes. Moviegoers are also interested to see Affleck collaborate with his The Accountant director Gavin O'Connor again.

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The Way Back, which at various points in its development was known as The Has-Been and Torrance, was initially set for release last fall. That gave some the impression it could be a dark horse on the awards circuit, but WB then opted to push it back to March 2020. The studio got the film's marketing campaign underway in November with the release of the first trailer and poster. Now, with The Way Back just over a month from hitting theaters, a second preview debuts online. While this trailer covers similar beats as its predecessor, it provides a little more insight into the broad strokes of the story. It begins with Jack describing his broken relationship with his father, which most likely will factor heavily into his character arc. There's clearly a lot of animosity there (Jack turned down a Kansas scholarship to spite his father), so it'll be interesting to see how that dynamic plays into the narrative. The film is obviously dealing with some heavy subject matter, but it still looks like it'll have some levity to balance out the drama. In particular, the basketball scenes look like they'll be entertaining, featuring classic team camaraderie and Jack trying to improve his sideline behavior in conjunction with the school's code of conduct. Ideally, The Way Back will be a well-rounded, inspirational film.

Admittedly, this isn't exactly new territory for O'Connor as a director, as his previous credits include Warrior and Miracle. At first glance, it doesn't appear as if The Way Back is going to reinvent the wheel, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The ingredients are in place for something compelling and powerful, and "formula" done right can still be very effective. With a March release date, WB might have few Oscar aspirations for The Way Back, though this could still be a crowd-pleasing, adult-orientated drama that finds an audience when it goes against Pixar's Onward at the box office.


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