- Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Matt Damon, Jason Bateman
- Written by
- Alex Convery
- Directed by
- Ben Affleck
- Run Time
- 1 hr. 52 min.
- Release Date
- April 5th, 2023
Over the past 10 plus years or so we have been inundated with movies and shows about historical events. But not like we were decades before, when said historical events were set in the 1940’s or 1960’s. And when those movies were based on world wars, presidencies, or The Great Depression. Now we only go back ten to twenty years back, heck sometimes we go back two years to cover things like a daring rescue, how Facebook was created, or how an internet company rise and fell and became lost in the 24 hour news cycle. The latest film directed by Ben Affleck goes back a bit further than more recent works, to the glorious time of 1984. When music had videos, clothes were made from parachutes, and basketball players were not bigger than the shoe brand that they wore.
Air opens on Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) who is in the upper level of shoe sales in Nike who at the time was only known for making running shoes. He and his uninterested co-workers led by Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) look to see which low level basketball players they can afford to sign with Nike. As they all look to bottom draft picks Vaccaro sets his sights on signing an eighteen year old Michael Jordan. After being told by his colleagues and friends including his boss and CEO of Nike, Phil Knight (Affleck) that it’s a fools errand to try and sign Jordan, he sets his mind to it anyway, feeling he has nothing to lose. He even goes as far as paying a visit to the Jordan home in North Carolina where he meets with Michael’s mom Deloris (Viola Davis). As he tries to convince her he sees more in her son that the people at Adidas and Converse do, he bets it all on this last gamble that will crush or elevate his struggling shoe company.
Affleck as a director came out strong with films like Gone Baby Gone and The Town, but stared to lose a bit of steam with his last couple despite the Oscar win for 2012’s Argo. Here with Air pardon the pun, he goes more lighter. With a story a lot of people know, especially if you saw the magnificent documentary from a few years ago The Last Dance. There you get a detailed breakdown of the beginnings of Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Here with Air not only do you know how it will end, but you follow characters who only played minor roles in legend that would become Michael Jordan. What Affleck and screenwriter Alex Convery focus on is adding to that legend, by showing the pivotal role Vaccaro and Deloris Jordan played in the signing of Michael to Nike.
Damon plays this with his heart on his sleeve as he waxes intellectual about knowing without a doubt the greatness Jordan will bring to the game. And Davis in the limited screen time she has, simply crushes it as Jordan’s caring and brilliant mother. The rest of the supporting cast add so much, again with their limited time, but still solid performances by Bateman, Chris Tucker, Marlon Waynes, Chris Messina, and Matthew Maher who plays Peter Moore the designer of the first Air Jordan shoe. The smartest thing the filmmakers do is keep Michael Jordan as a faceless name, even when he is on screen, you never really see him or hear him speak. Affleck simply wins you over by leaning on Damon’s sincerity and the 80’s vibe with over a dozen needle drops in place of a score. At first I was starting to get annoyed by the “greatest hits of the 80’s” sounds, but like the rest of the film it grows on you and you stay with it til the predictable yet, emotionally impactful ending.