Air Review – A By-The-Numbers Tale That Will Still Lift Audiences Spirits Up

Through all the successes of the Chicago Bulls during the 90s, Michael Jordan was at the top of his game. And at the bottom of his legs were a pair of shoes. Nike Air Jordans. While many know the story of the sporting giant, few know the story of his shoes, and, more importantly, who made them. With a screenplay by Alex Convery and direction by Ben Affleck, Air arrives to bridge the gap in this story and give audiences an inside look into the courting of a true legend.

Air follows shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), and is a heartwarming tale of sportsmanship, partnership, friendship and taking a risk. The opening credits is dripping in a 1980s aesthetic, set to the tune of Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing, throwing the audience is quickly into the deep end of business meetings, statistics and numbers, setting the tone of the film to follow.

As Sonny ventures from basketball games to office meetings, it’s quick to see that he and the Nike brand are looking for a new star signing for the upcoming NBA season. In discussions with Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), and Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), Sonny sets his sights on a player few see much talent in. Michael Jordan. 

As the film progresses, it quickly becomes clear that Jordan isn’t the star of the film, but rather, he takes a back seat to the inner workings of Nike and their main industry competitors, Converse and Adidas. It’s made clear by Jordan’s mother and father, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon respectively, Jordan’s eyes are set first on Adidas, then Converse, with Nike as a last resort. 

It’s through this dilemma that kicks Air into full gear. As Affleck and Convery take the audience on this journey of board meetings and the design process of a shoe, what stays constant throughout is its immense heart and passion for this story. Affleck’s direction is quite strong through the film, though rather standard for what audiences can expect from a film of this nature. While the story is familiar in both narrative and its ‘true story’ roots, Convery’s screenplay manages to maintain a cheerful confidence through a cast of charming characters.

While Damon steers the ship through his wit and charms, he is surrounded by a lot of talent in supporting roles. Affleck has his moments to shine as the persuasive Nike CEO Phil Knight, while Bateman gets to shine as a slightly more straight edged businessman in Rob Strasser. Next to them, Chris Tucker makes a big screen return as Howard White, a Nike executive who played a big part in getting the development of the Air Jordan off the ground. In a few moments of comedy gold, Matthew Maher also appears as Peter Moore, the man behind the actual design of the sneaker itself.

The real star of the supporting cast, however, is Viola Davis as Deloris Jordan. Davis is the grounded core of the film, portraying Deloris with a care and courtesy that keeps the film from losing itself in the corporate jargon. Through shared moments with Damon, Davis is cool, calm and collected in a performance that steals almost all of the scenes she is in. 

Air is not without its roadbumps, getting off to a pretty slow start before finding its stride in telling the story at hand. Additionally, while the business mechanics are quite interesting, some of the film’s more emotional beats can get lost in the task of adapting a true and documented story; although that emotional ground is made up in every scene with Viola Davis. The film also has a fun soundtrack with a lot of 80s needledrops, however they do become overbearing to the actual score at times, which gets lost in the background.

Although a pretty stock standard, by-the-numbers tale, Air remains upbeat & heartwarming in its underdog story of a band of creatives who took a risk. Ben Affleck’s direction maintains a beating heart through the film & is more than enough to keep audiences engaged with a story that is predetermined by fact. Through Alex Convery’s screenplay of likeable characters and intriguing business mechanics, there is plenty here to keep audiences engaged throughout its near two hour runtime. With a charming lead performance from Matt Damon, and a supporting cast of personable characters, Affleck and Co. do enough with Air to make for a pretty good time that will be sure to put a smile on faces and lift audiences spirits high (and probably Jordan’s sales numbers too).

Director: Ben Affleck

Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman

Writer: Alex Convery

Blake Ison

My name is Blake Ison and I am a film fan based in Brisbane. I have no professional knowledge of the industry, but love discussing all things to do with the medium. I’m a nerd through and through, so I have a major soft spot for all things genre. Hope you enjoy my ramblings!

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