Published on April 6th, 2023 | by Michael Newman0
Ben Affleck And Air Soars
It seems everywhere you go these days the Nike brand is all around us. It’s on the basketball court, on the football field, and practically on every pair of feet in almost every store you visit. The now famous shoe line started its humble beginning in Beaverton Oregon whose main focus at the time was on running. In 1984, the key players on the basketball court were Adidas and Converse. Nike, while still having a miniscule presence, was looking to potentially bow out of the basketball space all together. One man, and one now ubiquitous brand, would forever change Nike’s place in the game of basketball and would lead it to being one of the most powerful brands in the world. This is the story of Air.
For those who aren’t aware, Air written by Alex Convery and directed by Ben Affleck, features the true story of shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon). Sonny (and Nike as a whole) have been struggling to land a top basketball candidate to catapult Nike into the next generation. Struggling to keep pace with the juggernauts at Converse and Adidas, Sonny looks to risk his job, and potentially Nike as a company by pursuing a young rookie by the name of Michael Jordan. With the help of marketing mastermind Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), Howard White (Chris Tucker) and shoe designer Peter Moore (Matthew Maher), Sonny must look to operate outside the box in order to sway Michael to consider Nike as his leading brand. Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), CEO and founder of Nike, must put his trust and faith in Sonny, knowing that the company he has fostered and grown, might just have to risk everything for this deal to work.
Viola Davis, in a role that will almost certainly garner academy award discussions, portrays Michael Jordan’s mother Deloris Jordan. Michael Jordan had personally recommended Viola Davis for the role, and in her normal fashion, does outstanding in the role. Chris Messina rounds out the star-studded cast with his portrayal of the lovable, but conniving agent David Falk, who’s looking to ensure Michael gets the best deal he possibly can.
A film about a shoe company might not sound like the type of experience that will leave you inspired at the end. It even surprised me how vested I was in not only the film, but the history behind it at the end. Ben Affleck has crafted a tale that never drags or gets to deep in the minutia of the every day running of a shoe company. While Nike today may not sound like an underdog, it truly exemplifies a true underdog tale. A tale of David taking on a much bigger pair of Goliaths to become one of the top (if not the top) shoe brands in the world. The outstanding cast that has been assembled for this true masterpiece cannot be understated, and at times it feels like you are watching a documentary film, instead of one that Hollywood has cobbled together to tell the story.
Air has already garnered Oscar buzz and with good reason. While we are only in April, I can already say that it will be a leading contender in several categories in the 2024 Academy Awards. It is easily the best movie of the year, in a year which will undoubtably be a highly competitive space. Much like its underdog story, the film will likely need a lot of buzz to get people excited to see it, but once you leave the theater you’ll be glad you did.
4.5 out of 5 stars