Air tells the story of Air Jordan, the iconic basketball shoe line that was created in order to get Michael Jordan to sign exclusively with Nike. But rather than putting any focus on Michael Jordan himself, the film solely follows the journey of Sonny Vaccaro, played by Matt Damon, the man who pushed to make Air Jordan alongside Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), Howard White (Chris Tucker), and Peter Moore (Matthew Maher). But the film would not be complete without Delores and James Jordan, the parents of the iconic basketball player, played by Viola Davis and Julius Tennon.
This is another one of those films that proves that you can make a movie just about anything, so long as you have an engaging story that someone desperately wants to tell. While Ben Affleck hasn’t always been the A-list actor in my eyes, his directing style is something quite unique as it captures the essence of Air Jordan and the trials the Nike team went through to get their company in the fight. Even if everyone knows the end of this story, it’s ultimately about the journey. How did Nike go from a company whose shoes were absolutely undesirable by NBA players across the board to creating the iconic line that pushed a career along and helped create a legacy?
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What really centers the film as well is the near non-existence of Michael Jordan. We don’t ever truly see him and it’s the perfect way to maintain focus on one thing: How does one make a shoe that incorporates the essence of its namesake? We as the audience are then given the ability to see this process through the eyes of Sonny Vaccaro and the Nike team. It is well-accompanied with the protective front that Delores Jordan exhibits each time she is confronted by Nike or any other company, as well as the crude nature of David Faulk, Jordan’s agent. It becomes very clear very quickly that it’s about the shoe, and only the shoe.
Every performance across the board was engaging, snappy, and quick-witted. From Matt Damon’s pushy and determined Sonny to Chris Messina’s comedic and foul-mouthed David Faulk to the absolutely stunning and dramatic energy from Viola Davis, the entire cast kept you reeled in. There is fun that comes from each performance but there are also tense and heartfelt moments that get you rooting for everyone to win.
Whether or not you know anything about basketball, it doesn’t matter. Whether or not your sneakerhead, it doesn’t matter either. What does matter is that the audience is given a story they can care about, with proper direction and genuine emotions and connections. Air manages to pull it all off, and then some. It’s not a sports movie, but it’ll definitely get you on the edge of your seat, and invested in the business end of the sports world, even if it is only for two hours.
Air receives 4.5 out of 5 Samosas.
Air is now playing in theaters.
Runtime: 1h 52m