"The Way Back" is the story of Jack Cunningham (Affleck), who back in high school 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, Jack may get his last shot at redemption. (Gary Reber)
Special features include the featurettes "Every Loss Is Another Fight: The Road to Redemption" (HD 05:25) and "The Way Back: This Sporting Life" (HD 05:22) and a Movies Anywhere digital code.
The 2.39:1 1080p AVC picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, upconverted to 2160p with greater resolution and luminance, was photographed digitally using the Arri Alexa SXT and sourced from a 2K master Digital Intermediate format. While generally a low-lit production, except for the scenes in gymnasiums and occasional daytime exteriors, naturalness is exhibited throughout. Color fidelity is naturally hued with a few strong saturation levels, such as the whites and reds of the kids' uniforms. Otherwise, colors are generally muted. The exteriors of the homes and beach setting are perfectly hued. The interiors, such as the bar Jack frequents and his scroungy home, project a dark, brooding atmosphere. Fleshtones are generally natural. Resolution is good with facial features revealing complexions, hair, beards, mustaches, etc. Clothing and uniforms are finely resolved as well as object textures. Contrast is realistic with some environmental scenes beautifully presented. The imagery exhibits a natural balance of black levels and shadow delineation. Overall, the production achieves a darkly realistic and raw account of the storytelling. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack requires turning up the volume to achieve reference level. Even so, the sonics are reserved in terms of aggressive surround envelopment. Whether by design or budget, the result is unremarkable. There are, of course, segments of crowded gymnasiums, action on the basketball court, and the occasional panned sound effect, which energizes the soundfield and enhances the sense of depth and dimensionality. Atmospherics sound realistic. Foley sound effects are terrific, such as basketball court action and man-to-man scrimmage on the court. The orchestral score occupies a wide and deep soundstage and extends to envelope the soundfield. At times, deep bass is powerful and extended within the music. Dialogue is often nicely integrated spatial and at other times ADR produced but always intelligible.
The Immersive Sound element is rarely used to non-existent during many segments. There is low-level orchestral that extends to the height layer. The first really strong extension is at 15:55 when the sound of player action on a basketball court is heard. This lasts until 20:26. This gets more intense during actual game action and choruses of team fans singing and rooting for their respective teams. This is very effective in enhancing the dynamics of the 7.1 bed. While atmospherics could have been effectively elevated, overall, this is a good application of the height layer.
Overall, the soundtrack, while at times reserved in terms of holosonic® dimensionality, except for the basketball action, is perfectly serviceable in support of the storytelling. (Gary Reber)