Air (2023)


Follows the history of shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro, and how he led Nike in its pursuit of the greatest athlete in the history of basketball: Michael Jordan.

Ben Affleck’s first film in 7 years is a biographical sports drama about the origins of a shoe, specifically the Nike Air Jordan shoe that transformed the fortunes of Nike and revolutionised how sports endorsements work. If that sounds like behind the scenes business stuff it is, but in the hands of Affleck, this is a thoroughly entertaining movie that works because ‘Air’ takes the form of a scrappy underdog story and uses our knowledge of Michael Jordan and what he’d become to add weight to the events we see on screen. This might at heart be about a shoe, but it’s more about a small group of individuals who took a big gamble that paid off massively, and what’s not to love about that?

Air’ tells this story primarily through the eyes of Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), a schlubby 40-something year-old who knows his stuff when it comes to basketball, but is working for Nike who at this point in time (mid-80s) are very much an also-ran when it comes to Basketball. Alongside Jason Bateman’s Rob Strasser, his job is to sign rookie NBA players up to wear their shoes, but they don’t have the budget to attract the biggest prospects – that is unless they put all their eggs in one basket and target one player and one player alone. As history tells us, that player was Michael Jordan, and Sonny has a hunch that this rookie might just go on to be something special, and herein follows the story of how he got Jordan to sign for Nike and not Adidas or Converse, at the time the biggest players in the Basketball game.

I really enjoyed this movie and I think it’s largely because it’s really well told and really good fun, with a strong ensemble who bounce off each other well. Alongside Damon and Bateman, we have Affleck himself as Nike CEO Phil Knight, Chris Messina as Jordan’s foul mouthed agent David Falk, and perhaps most importantly, Viola Davis as Jordan’s mother Deloris. Deloris is the key player in deciding who Jordan signs with, and she is the heart of the movie with some of the best scenes featuring Davis and Damon discussing Jordan’s future from different perspectives. Ben Affleck has made some pretty decent films over the year and ‘Air’ is another hit – entertainment that will appeal to the masses with great storytelling, a top soundtrack, a good cast, and a cracking story at its heart. Well worth seeing when it’s released officially in a week’s time.

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Ben Affleck

Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, Matthew Maher, Julius Tennon, Marlon Wayans and Viola Davis

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