132 user 88 critic

The Way Back (2020)

R | | Drama, Sport | 6 March 2020 (USA)
2:15 | Trailer
Jack Cunningham was an 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.


Gavin O'Connor


Brad Ingelsby
20 ( 48)
6 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Affleck ... Jack
Al Madrigal ... Dan
Janina Gavankar ... Angela
Michaela Watkins ... Beth
Brandon Wilson ... Brandon Durrett
Will Ropp ... Kenny Dawes
Fernando Luis Vega ... Sam Garcia
Charles Lott Jr. Charles Lott Jr. ... Chubbs Hendricks
Melvin Gregg ... Marcus Parrish
Ben Irving ... Bobby Freeze
Jeremy Radin ... Father Mark Whelan
John Aylward ... Father Edward Devine
Da'Vinchi ... Devon Childress
Matthew Glave ... Coach Lombardo
Nico David ... Ryan

How 'The Way Back' Reignited Ben Affleck's Passion

Ben Affleck, Janina Gavankar, and director Gavin O'Connor discuss the emotional but powerful filming of The Way Back and how it reconnected Affleck with his love of acting.

Watch the video

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Back in high school, Jack Cunningham 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, he may get his last shot at redemption. Written by Warner Bros

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Every loss is another fight.


Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout including some sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Gavin O'Connor left The Suicide Squad (2021) to finish working on this movie. See more »


Jack Cunningham: You want to know why they're leaving you open? It's because they don't think you can hit the ocean from the beach.
See more »


Referenced in Midnight Screenings: The Way Back/Emma (2020) See more »


Brand New
Written by DeAngelo Samuel
Performed by Nyzzy Nyce
Courtesy of Position Music
See more »

User Reviews

Excellent and honest performance by Ben Affleck but painful to watch
6 March 2020 | by trinaboiceSee all my reviews

IN A NUTSHELL: Warner Brothers presents a compelling story of overcoming one's worst self on the road to redemption. It's painful to watch since ¾ of the movie display a man's self-destructive behaviors over and over and over again. That man is portrayed in an outstanding, melancholy performance by Ben Affleck who reflects his own personal struggle with alcoholism in real life. It's one of Affleck's best and most honest performances to date. He's extremely believable as a blue-collar worker and Everyday Man. What's especially poignant is that he has recently admitted that his last trip to rehab was just a couple of years ago and that every day is still a battle. The movie is not the typical underdog story, but offers a more mature, realistic look at life. If you hate watching people implode by their terrible choices, this movie is going to be frustrating for you to watch. I wouldn't call it entertaining. I would call it insightful and poignant.

TIPS FOR PARENTS: Lots of profanity. In fact, profanity is a running joke in the movie. Ben Affleck's character has a serious potty-mouth, which is a big problem for a guy coaching basketball at a religious school. He promises he'll work on it, but the F-bombs and other crude language continue to fly from the beginning to end of the movie. Lots of bad behavior, such as dishonesty and self-indulgence. LOTS of destructive behavior such as alcohol drinking, drunk driving, infidelity, and pill-popping. You see sick kids in a hospital with discussions of death. A man goes to rehab.

THEMES: Redemption "Just do all the little things right." - Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) Respect Family Hope Grief Addiction Choices, consequences, and accountability In the team practice after each basketball game, Coach Jack would ask the players, "What did we learn about ourselves last night?" What a great question and exercise. "We can't change the past, Jack. What we can do is choose how we move forward." - Therapist

THINGS I LIKED: The entire cast is solid and believable. Lots of humor to balance out the many dramatic scenes. There is something about the way the story is told that evokes verbal engagement from the audience. That's a nice way of saying that there were a ton of people in the audience where I watched the press screening who kept talking to Ben Affleck during the movie. My husband was annoyed, but my friend and I were extremely entertained listening to comments like, "No! Don't do it!", "Try harder!", "Stop!" ha ha Act 1 is slow and painful to watch as we go to the bar with Ben Affleck's character night after night. Act 2 offers more of the exhausting same. Then, in Act 3, we finally get to see the cliched sports movie give us the triumphant scenes we want to see. But wait, there is an Act 4 that catches us off guard. That's where the heft of the movie takes an unexpected turn and provides meaty insights.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE: There is a lot of basketball talk, as you can imagine, so if you're not into basketball, you might get a little tired of all that. It's a sports movie, so you can still understand the ups and downs of team drama. I'm assuming Cutter's beer paid dearly for the product endorsement, since you see a LOT of scenes with Ben Affleck guzzling it. There's an exposition scene where one of the characters has to explain how high the stakes are so we care. I started to get the feels, but I never actually broke down and cried. I felt like the emotional pull could have squeezed even harder. A few times the camera moved around so fast that I actually got dizzy and had to look away from the screen. While it's somewhat cliched and predictable for a feel-good sports movie, it's missing the obligatory training sequence in a musical montage. ha ha The movie really focuses on Ben Affleck's character, so we don't get to learn a lot about the players on the basketball. A few of them have identifiable characteristics but the movie just doesn't dive deep into them. The friend of mine who watched the movie with me said he would have walked out during the first Act because he just can't stand watching people drink themselves to death on screen. He was glad he stayed until the end but he said the powerful message at the end wasn't worth having to sit through all of the tragic self-destruction in the majority of the film.

You can read the rest of my movie review on Movie Review Mom (dot) com or on my Movie Review Mom YouTube channel.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

6 March 2020 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Has-Been See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,170,315, 8 March 2020

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Atmos



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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