The Valero Verdict: The Way Back

Welcome to another edition of the “The Valero Verdict” movie review. In this I will give you a quick movie review with a couple of bullet points of which I either liked or disliked. I will end the review with rating of the movie and a short overall thoughts.

On the docket today, the Ben Affleck led basketball drama, The Way Back.

Plot: Jack Cunningham was a HS basketball phenom who walked away from the game, forfeiting his future. Years later, when he reluctantly accepts a coaching job at his alma mater, he may get one last shot at redemption.

Ben Affleck is one of my favorite actors/directors in all of Hollywood, so the moment I saw this trailer I was all in. We all know how public his struggles with drinking were, and because of the content within the film, I expected we would see an Affleck we have yet to see on the big screen.

This film follows Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) a separated, alcoholic former HS basketball player who is struggling with life. He wakes up every morning with a cold beer and a shower, starts his day at work with a little vodka inside a coffee cup, and ends it with a couple of cases of beer. As we peel back the layers of Jack we witness not just a transformation of a man but how this transformation helped become the light in a lot of kid’s lives.

O’Connor’s writing truly made you invest in Jack, the story and understanding that every redemption story isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. He also did a wonderful job of making you invest in these kids, their story, their troubles, their redemption. He could’ve just honed in on Jack and his struggles but he used Jack’s pain to help elevate the kids to a new level.

The intensity we felt from the big game, that rush that my insides felt when it was happening, it was this beautiful poetry that O’Connor had us on the edge of our seats. He made us understand that the shot wasn’t just about making it and winning the game. It was about feeling that for the first time in a long time, Jack made the right decision. He did something right in a world in which he never thought he would be able to again.

We all witnessed a transformation in this film outside of Jack but within Ben Affleck. We are all aware of the struggles of which he faced in his life, they are very public, and so I believe he was able to therapeutically perform on another level due to the correlation. It was like watching Shia LaBeouf in Honey Boy all over again. This was a career-defining performance inside the most personal role in his career. He was raw, he was emotional and he was invested. We got to see a version of Affleck we have yet to see on the big screen.

The power of addiction is something that a lot of us understand, whether you have battled it yourself or you witness someone falter at the hands of it. We can’t change the circumstances of the past, we can’t change the way our parent’s raised us, but what we can do is overcome the things that tried to define who we were expected to be because of that very past. The Way Back shows us this power of overcoming through trials and tribulations that define not only how Jack lived his life, but how Affleck continues to live each day.

The Verdict:

**** 1/2 out of ***** gavels

I had very high expectations for this film going in as the trailer had me hooked from the first time I saw it. It did not disappoint at all. The story of redemption can be fed to us in ways that aren’t appealing and what the movie got right was the fact that every story doesn’t always have a happy ending. The final shot of this film was one of the most beautifully therapeutic shots you will see in a movie this year.

Should You See It?: Yes. This movie will be available via VOD on 03/24 for purchase of $19.99. DO IT!!!!

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Tell me what you thought of the movie, hit me up on here or talk to me on Twitter@RickyValero_

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