Air is the true story of how a legend rose to prominence. Directed by Ben Affleck, Air tells how Nike rose out of the ground thanks to a deal with Michael Jordon that would change millions of lives.
Most sports people know of Michael Jordon’s affiliation with Nike. Something lesser known, however, is the story of how the corporation scooped him up to create Air Jordon, the most famous model of sporting shoes in the world.
The premise is as follows: The year is 1984. Nike is not the corporation giant that it is today. It is overshadowed by its competitors Adidas and Converse who are two steps ahead in the market. As a result of low sales, Sonny Vaccaro is given the task of finding new spokespeople for Nike’s basketball shoe division. He needs to come up with three players, but he only has eyes for one individual in particular. Michael Jordon.
In Air, Ben Affleck once again takes the director reins with Alex Convery handling the script. To date, this is Affleck’s fifth time being a director, having already done Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Argo and Live by Night. Affleck favours good writing, experienced actors and respectable behind-the-scenes craftspeople as shown in the film.
Leading the charge is Matt Damon’s Sonny Vaccaro, Nike’s recruiting expert who sets his eyes on Michael Jordon. Determined, optimistic and gutsy, Vaccaro faces opposition in every corner of the room. And despite his less-than-impressive physical appearance, he is sharp and doesn’t tolerate incompetence. He is willing to be daring and take risks to succeed. His sheer will is inspiring and one cannot help, but cheer when he continues pursuing what he believes is the right solution.
Vaccaro isn’t alone. He works with Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), Nike’s bantering director of marketing. There’s also Chris Tucker who plays fast talking player-turned-executive Howard White who provides moments of levity in discussions. David Falk (Chris Messina), Jordon’s over-the-top agent. Viola Davis also steps in as Jordon’s mother who provides a level of wisdom to the film. Ben Affleck himself stars as Phil Knight, Nike’s profit-obsessed, dry-witted CEO. This blending of personalities, elevated by Alex Convery’s script and a stellar ensemble of actors, creates a group of people that can be admired, even though they are playing the no-mercy game of business.
If Sunny is one of the most significant characters, then the other belongs to Deloris Jordon. Viola Davis simply kills it. Jordon himself insisted that Davis was the only actress that could play his mother. Loving, wise beyond her years and supportive of her son, Deloris serves as the heart of the story. Her wisdom is a force of nature that leaves audiences enthralled. Michael Jordon’s face remains unseen for the duration of the film, though active footage of him appears during the credits. Although played by Damian Delano Young, there are no direct shots of his face.
Perhaps the most important scene in the whole film comes from a sales pitch given by Sonny to Jordon and his parents. He starts off with a pre-planned speech, but decides to improvise mid-way. This is a reference to an earlier scene where it is mentioned that Martin Luther King did something similar when he saw his audience was losing interest. Sunny tells how the shoe will let people worldwide have a piece of Jordon’s legacy. It is not about the man Michael Jordan; it is about Air Jordan and the myth and the legend. Air is just like the shoes, another way for us to get a glimpse of Jordan’s greatness.
Overall, everything fits into place seamlessly. Audiences don’t need to be familiar with the backstory to appreciate it. Affleck uses his cast perfectly to fill the story with great moments. Air also keeps people immersed with powerful scenes and well-acted speechs that help the film move the plot forward.To sum it all up: Air easily ranks itself as one of the best films of the year thus far.
See the trailer below:
Subscribe to FIB’s Weekly Breaking News Report for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!