ESP’s movie reviewer Gavin Miller checks out this latest release on the small screen starring Ben Affleck…
This Ben Affleck-led tale of retribution isn’t exactly a ‘slam dunk’ – but still pulls off some impressive ‘dribbles’.
There’s been a bunch of basketball ‘rags to riches’ stories – from Coach Carter to Glory Road – and this slots in there with them, neither more superior or worse than similar genre entries.
Affleck re-teams with his The Accountant producer Gavin O’Connor – who directs this time round – by playing former high school basketball sensation Jack Cunningham.
But he walked away from the game at the height of his fame, and now sadly has become a depressed ‘alcoholic’ after splitting up with his wife.
We learn later down the line that the death of his young son to cancer has played a major part in his current life cycle too – as he gets ‘legless’ at his local bar every night until he ‘blacks out’.
But when the father from the catholic high school, Bishop Hayes, where he made his name comes to him for help, he reluctantly accepts the position as basketball head coach to try and turn the team into play-off potentials.
The only problem is they’ve never got close to qualifying for the finals since Jack was a star on the team some twenty five years or so before.
With the usual genre tropes thrown in – cocky center Marcus (Melvin Gregg) is booted off the team, quiet point guard Brandon’s (Brandon Wilson) self-confidence is boosted to elevate the squad etc – we slowly see Jack turn this group of misfits around into viable contenders, and he himself finds a new lease of life as he battles his demons, and his drinking dramatically decreases.
Along the way he’s shaken by his ex (Michaela Watkins) finding a new guy, assistant coach Dan (Al Madrigal) discovering his alcoholism, and one of his son’s best friends having his cancer return after being in remission – which brings back the pain of his son’s death.
But even though it doesn’t reinvent the wheel – and doesn’t really do anything special to propel itself ahead of aforementioned similar efforts – it still provides a thoroughly watchable, and sometimes touching, drama.
If you’re into this type of thing then Finding your Way Back connects from ‘downtown’ – for others it will just hit the rim and bounce out.
Either way it’s worth a shot.
ESP Rating: 3/5
Cast: Ben Affleck, Janina Gavankar, Al Madrigal, Michaela Watkins, Brandon Wilson, Melvin Gregg, Will Ropp, Charles Rott Jr & John Aylward
Running Time: 1 Hr 48 Mins
Director: Gavin O’Connor