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REVIEW | AIR

With its impressive performances, a sprinkling of comedy and emphasis on Michael Jordan's greatness, Air is a crowd-pleasing sports drama slam-dunk.
BY ELLIOT LINES MARCH 28, 2023

Michael Jordan is the household name of basketball, and Air Jordan's the household name in sneakers, so much so the great player makes an astonishing $400 million a year from the sales. The story of how this came to be is the subject of Ben Affleck's latest film Air, taking us back to before Nike was the household name in basketball.


Back in 1984, Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) a basketball expert at Nike's then small basketball division is a big-risk taker. When he spots something different in a rookie named Michael Jordan he works to try and sign the rookie to Nike as his sponsor. However, he must persuade his boss Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), colleagues Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), Howard White (Chris Tucker) and Michaels mother Deloris Jordan (Viola Davis), that not only is this the best move for Michael but this massive risk is the best move for the company.

Air is another film to add into the sports drama category, one that isn't about the sport yet uses the sport as tool to aid the film along its way. Moneyball comes to mind, where that is about the dealings behind the scenes to make the winning happen on the field. This was similar, it's about how one persons greatness has led a company to be where they are today, but this time not through the stars perspective, but through the people behind the deal.


In fact, Jordan isn't actually portrayed in this film whatsoever, only in body form. Air is told through the lens of Sonny Vaccaro, played by Matt Damon. Throughout it feels as though Damon is near his best, the energetic nature he brings to the role bounces off the screen guiding this film along the story-line. His supporting cast were just as good. Affleck brought a little bit of business minded seriousness to the film, whereas Bateman an Tucker added that friendship and comedic moments that made Air a light breezy watch. As she always does, when Viola Davis was on screen she steals the show, controlling the room with her presence. There is no faulting all the performances across the board, everything and everyone seemed to fit into place perfectly.

When it comes to drama's they can sometime be a little too serious. Air however knows exactly the right moments to lighten up the mood. There are times when these character are down on their luck (or seemingly so), and these are the moments that the script decides to get a laugh out of the audience, which there were plenty of, which added a different energy to the room.


We also couldn't forget about Michael Jordan here. Okay so the film doesn't actually have him portrayed, but it certainly manages to show his greatness. Done is two different ways, the belief shown by Sonny, his parents and Jordan's apparent self belief proves where this young man is going to go. But the film also uses moments from Jordan's future to show where he's going to go for all the non-basketball fans out there. If you want a film about Jordan himself, this definitely isn't it, but it does showcase the importance of the man to Nike and the game of basketball.


A film about a shoe, that's basically the gist of it or is it? This is another win for Ben Affleck who has managed to make a film that is more than just about the shoe, and with its impressive performances, a sprinkling of comedy and emphasis on Michael Jordan's greatness, Air is a crowd-pleasing sports drama slam-dunk.


STAR RATING

All pictures provided by Warner Brothers

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