Directed by Ben Affleck.
Starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, Damian Young, Matthew Maher, Gustaf Skarsgård, Barbara Sukowa, Jay Mohr, Joel Gretsch, Michael O’Neill, Asanté Deshon, Billy Smith, Al Madrigal, Jackson Damon, Dan Bucatinsky, Jessica Green, Gabrielle Bourne, Joshua Funk, Andy Hirsch, Jeff Cook, Albert Stroth, and Mackenzie Rayne.
Follow the story of shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro and how he led Nike in its search for the greatest athlete in basketball history: Michael Jordan.
The year is 1984 and Michael Jordan (arguably the greatest professional basketball player of all time) has yet to set foot on an NBA court. Sonny Vaccaro, Matt Damon’s Nike-wear player scout, walks into a convenience store (painfully recreated to authentically match the period, right down to athletes in cereal boxes), also striking up a casual conversation with the cashier about basketball , who believes that Michael Jordan will not win. He didn’t make a big splash for himself or the Chicago Bulls. It’s hard to imagine people not picking up on that excellence early on, but allow Ben Affleck Air (from a screenplay by Alex Convery) to tell an inspiring and moving story about those who saw something special in him at his high school and college games.
Maybe even greater is what it means Air it doesn’t have to work like a standard biopic about the entire life of a celebrity or even about his ragtag team of Nike employees working together alongside Sonny’s risky determination to gamble on the future of the basketball shoe line department of the company in not only signing Michael Jordan to a lucrative deal but branding the shoes around his identity and team, even if it means breaking a rule regarding NBA shoe color (at least 50% have to be white) and pay out of pocket every time.
Sitting in meetings where no one has ambitions or a finger on the pulse of the basketball scene, Sonny takes his grievances to CEO Phil Knight (played by director Ben Affleck), a honcho who has grown more secretive and lost his edge. when it comes to taking big bets. As a filmmaker, Ben Affleck avoids the discomfort of convincing viewers to cheer for a corporation. Sure, there are competitors like German-owned Adidas (currently in ownership shows after a tragic loss, though perhaps not too tragic considering the former CEO was a Nazi) and Converse portrayed as greedy or out-of-touch villains, but the Lines of Air he seems more concerned with the stagnation and failure that can result from a corporation becoming complacent, unable to innovate through new visions and bond with the talent it engages with in the business.
While Michael Jordan is questionably given the She said Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of just watching him (played by Damien Young) from the back of his head (a frustrating creative decision that deprives him of greater purpose and emphasis as a person and character here, but also somewhat understandable given that it would be hard to capture with such limited screen time anyway), it becomes apparent from his mother, Deloris Jordan (the exceptionally trustworthy Viola Davis), who also believes very much in her son, he has no interest in signing with Nike; they have the lowest market share, are out of fashion, and most likely won’t be able to match the offers of the other companies (who are willing to offer a luxury vehicle per your request) unless they put the house on it .
This leads Sonny to meet with marketing expert Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), brand representative Howard White (Chris Tucker), who can relate to gamers through his playing experience before injuries derailed his career. career, and unsung hero Peter Moore (Matthew Maher) who sadly passed away a month earlier Air it was billed as a project, to put their heads together and create the perfect shoe that encapsulates individualism and Michael Jordan as a player, and something that can adapt to his preferences on the court. It’s also that focus on imagining and creating a product tied to a specific person, bending and breaking the rules to develop a great product that maintains that appealing look regardless of one’s level of enthusiasm for shoes.
Meanwhile, Sonny has to undermine Phil’s skepticism about spending an exorbitant amount of money on this deal, working his way through hilariously heated arguments with Michael Jordan’s agent, John Falk (Chris Messina), involving threats to eat testicles, and finds a bit of the wisdom of college basketball coach George Raveling (Marlon Wayans) that becomes paramount in Sonny delivering his own rousing, prescient speech directly to a young 18-year-old Michael Jordan (along with a highlight reel of all things Michael Jordan).
It may seem like there is a lot going on in Air, but Ben Affleck is a smart director, adept at keeping the story clean, gliding through the air and buzzing with energy so that every ounce of pressure to get this deal comes together. He’s assembled a talented ensemble that feels destined to chat nimbly like ping-pong, with significant moments reminding Sonny how many jobs are on the line and that his arrogant risk-taking could have dire repercussions for his co-workers. . some of whom are parents struggling or entertainingly navigating their way through a mid-life crisis.
Expanding on that point, picking an interim MVP is practically silly, but Matt Damon is captivating as a man who makes bold moves in the name of trusting his gut, compulsively ambitious to take Nike to new heights. He and Ben Affleck continue to have an electric chemistry, while scenes of him with Viola Davis ground his character and raise important discussions about companies that profit from young gamers. Admittedly, there’s justification for wondering if the story would be stronger and more relatable if it were entirely from the perspective of a parent in Deloris Jordan. There’s room to spend more time with the Jordan family, but what’s here is insightful and comfortable tackling serious topics that will inevitably change the world of sports. It’s a breath of fresh air approach to telling a family biographical story.
Each square space of Robert Richardson’s cinematography highlights office spaces, culture, and fashion in 1984 to a vivid referential degree that operates somewhere between nostalgia and an organic representation of the time. Even the needle drops, which are usually obvious pop hits, fit so well that it’s hard to hate them. There’s also a decent amount of fan service (at one point, the Chicago Bulls’ entrance theme plays), but it’s coupled with a feeling of sincerity throughout the two-hour run.
That’s also a way of saying that the film makes up for the lack of character depth by serving as pure entertainment through the eccentric personalities caught up in negotiating this deal. Every Ben Affleck directorial choice plays cleverly into Air‘s momentum, which overcomes a conventional structure to fly through the air with the force of a Michael Jordan slamdunk.
Blinking Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]