Josh Gibbs’s review published on Letterboxd:
Funny how this isn't even the first time a supporting actor from Good Will Hunting who also happens to be an Affleck brother has starred in their own thematically similar movie in which their character's painful memories from a traumatic past are affecting their life and relationships today in the form of an unhealthy coping mechanism involving substance abuse, before leading to a moment of catharsis achieved through mentoring younger characters...
Straightforward, sturdy and formulaic to a fault yet engaging and empathetically played, The Way Back is a powerful redemption story grounded in a terrific central performance from Affleck, made all the more stirring due to the obvious parallels that can be drawn with his own life.
It's well shot by Eduard Grau, with a few surprisingly creative choices involving blatantly biblical imagery to go alongside the theme of redemption, such as when a metal cross hangs over Jack as he lies about his alcoholism, following this exchange:
“Father, let me ask you something. With all the terrible stuff going on in the world, do you think whoever's up there really gives a s*** what I say to these kids?”
“As Christians, we are called by God to integrate our faith into our daily lives. So yes, Jack, I do think he really gives a s*** about the example you set for these young men. Don't underestimate the impact you have on them.”
The same goes for an early scene where Jack and Coach Dan are framed so as to appear as though Jack is speaking to him as one would a priest in a confessional booth.
I wish it had gone on just a little longer honestly, I could've watched another 10 or 15 minutes, easy. After this and Warrior, I should stop doubting Gavin O'Connor's ability to direct deeply flawed, deeply hurting men.