‘The Way Back’ Trailer: Ben Affleck Finally Plays a Coach

Published on February 4, 2020

Playing an inspiring coach is like a rite of passage in Hollywood. It’s a classic role that all the greats have tried at one time or another. Now, Ben Affleck is taking his shot at securing a spot in sports movie history with a promising new drama, The Way Back, directed by Gavin O’Connor. 

The Way Back Trailer

The Way Back was scheduled to come out last year but it was wisely pushed up to March. It is a much less busy time to release a mainstream drama compared to the fall and winter. From the look of it, Affleck has a substantial role as Jack Cunningham. Cunningham was an all-star High School player and had a chance to play for Kansas, but he threw it all away and got lost in the booze. With a coaching job at his old school, he may finally find a purpose and a new path. Based on the new trailer, maybe bring a tissue or two to The Way Back.

Gavin O’Connor’s Sports Movies 

There’s no wrong reason to have high expectations for this drama considering it hails from writer-director Gavin O’Connor, who directed Affleck in The Accountant. While sports dramas are often dipped in cheese and schmaltz, that’s not true of O’Connor’s movies. Both Warrior and Miracle are beautiful movies about second chances, similar to The Way Back. Cliches don’t define O’Connor’s sports drama. They’re genuine movies. Nothing feels overly calculated.

O’Connor depicted alcoholism in Warrior with some real truth and pain, so with The Way Back, we shouldn’t expect an easy, overly commercial sports drama about addiction. The Affleck-led movie doesn’t look like that either, although it does look like it has some of the great staples of the sports movie genre. Who else can’t wait to see Affleck deliver a big speech or two to kids today? He only keeps getting better as an actor the older he gets. 

What’s ‘Ol Ben Up To?

Affleck’s career in the last few years has had its ups and downs following his explosive comeback with his directorial efforts. When Affleck signed up to play Batman, it kept him away from doing much more interesting work. He bailed on The Batman movie after long and valid rumors of his disinterest in continuing playing the character. He hasn’t directed a movie since Live By Night, which was another disappointment and his first real miss as a director. It didn’t suffer from a lack of ambition, but it wasn’t as polished and rock-solid as Argo or The Town. Next up, we’ll see Affleck back together again with his pal Matt Damon in a Ridley Scott movie. After he wraps that drama, we’ll see him in an Adrian Lyne (Unfaithful)film, possibly a Robert Rodriguez sci-fi movie, and he may direct his first war film, Ghost Army.

Synopsis for The Way Back

Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) once had a life filled with promise. In high school, he was a basketball phenom with a full university scholarship, when suddenly, for reasons unknown, he walked away from the game, forfeiting his future. Now years later, Jack is spiraling down, triggered by an unspeakable loss, and drowning in the alcoholism that cost him his marriage and any hope for a better life. When he is asked to coach the basketball team at his alma mater, which has fallen far since his glory days, he reluctantly accepts, surprising no one more than himself. As the boys start to come together as a team and win, Jack may have finally found a reason to confront the demons that have derailed him. But will it be enough to fill the void, heal the deep wounds of his past, and set him on the road to redemption?

The Way Back opens in theaters on March 6.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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