When it comes to sports films, the resume of Huntington, Long Island’s own Gavin O’Connor is tough to beat. The director of Miracle in 2004 about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, producer of the classic MMA documentary The Smashing Machine and writer and director of the Tom Hardy MMA film Warrior has added another sports-themed credit with the upcoming March release of The Way Back (@TheWayBackMovie), starring Ben Affleck.
This time it’s basketball as the hook, and O’Connor is the director and among the producers of the drama, in which a former high school basketball phenom with a full university scholarship, suddenly, for reasons unknown, walks away from the game, forfeiting his future. Now years later, the protagonist Jack Cunningham, played by Affleck, 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, a Warner Bros. feature, also stars Al Madrigal (Night School), Michaela Watkins (“Casual”), Janina Gavankar (“True Blood”) and Glynn Turman (Bumblebee).