‘Air’: Not Just Another Sports Apparel Movie (REVIEW)

Being neither a sports, shoes, or business fan, I wasn’t sure what I would think of Air. But from the cast alone, I knew I had to see it. How do you tell a story that you already know the ending of? I find it hard to believe you could find a single person who doesn’t already know that Air Jordans exist. And I’m not sure what rock they would have crawled out from under only to decide to see a movie about basketball shoes. But let’s go with the assumption that some people have no idea about Air Jordans or even Michael Jordan.

Air is an underdog sports-adjacent story. It has sharp, witty dialogue, and charisma dripping off the screen in every scene, all wrapped in 1980s American scenery. The film tells the story of Sonny Vacarro (Matt Damon) who is trying to recruit Jordan for Nike, currently run by CEO Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), to save its dying basketball division. But don’t worry, Air isn’t a boring biopic or a two-hour Nike ad. Instead, it is a dynamic, fast-paced story about people who bend the rules and work relentlessly to achieve something they believe in. From conference rooms to production labs, Air has you on the edge of your seat. Even though I knew how Air ends, I was still stressed about whether Jordan would go with Nike or choose a competitor, Adidas or Converse (which, am I the only one who doesn’t think of Converse as a sports shoe?).

Matt Damon as Sonny Vacarro in Air (COURTESY: Amazon)

It’s a genuinely fun time watching Damon and Affleck verbally spar; they have an electrifying chemistry that elevates their interactions with each other. Vacarro is a basketball guru who tends to follow his gut and ignore any advice given to him in his pursuit of, Jordan, a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Knight is a corporate Buddhist who walks around the office barefoot and spouts Zen proverbs, all while driving his grape-colored Porsche and praising the corporate values that made his company a success. The two actors play off of one another perfectly to create an explosive dynamic that carries over with the rest of the cast.

Along with Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) as Vacarro’s boss and Howard White (Chris Tucker) as an executive at the company, every single workplace scene in Air is utterly compelling. There’s also David Falk (Chris Messina), Jordan’s agent, who steals the show with a wildly hilarious and entirely obscene phone rant that will undoubtedly end up on TikTok – if the app hasn’t been banned by then. The entire cast meshes beautifully, which isn’t an easy feat when every one of them has their own star power.

Viola Davis as Deloris Jordan in Air (COURTESY: Amazon)

As both director and actor, Affleck makes a canny choice to never show Michael Jordan’s face in Air. While the film is a story about Jordan, it’s also a story about the people surrounding him. Jordan is an ideal place on a pedestal for people like Falk and Vacarro, who hope to profit from him. Chief amongst Jordan’s believers is his mother, Deloris, played by the incredible Viola Davis. Davis brings the smart, no-nonsense woman to life and I was always left wanting more of her in every scene. She is not only an advocate for his son, but also his biggest believer.

Air is a fun, engaging, and dynamic movie that brings the details of this million-dollar brand to life. It’s overflowing with amazing 80’s references that probably went mostly over my head but I enjoyed the film nonetheless. This is a story about hard work, following your gut, and a dream big enough to change the world, or at least make a pretty cool pair of shoes. As someone with almost no interest in sports, shoes, or business I would say that Air is a must-watch.

Rating: 9/10

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