“Air” Review

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“Air” Rating: 4/5

Ben Affleck returns to the director’s chair after a brief hiatus (I’ll still miss his Batman). Here, he aims to tackle a sports drama centering around Nike’s gamble on Michael Jordan.

Shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro wants to catapult Nike into the basketball realm. He knows they need to go bold if they want to gain a significant share and compete with the big dogs. He has an idea to give their entire budget to one athlete and improve their standings. Will Sonny’s gamble pay off? Or will he lose everything in the process?

Positives

Whenever I see Ben Affleck’s name attached to the director’s chair, my ears perk up. I’m continuously impressed with his ability to combine good scripts with an intriguing premise. “Air” manages to continue this trend.

The cast is impressive from top to bottom. Matt Damon is in top form, combining charm with enthusiasm in his portrayal of Sonny. Affleck also stars as Phil Knight, Nike’s founder. His acting is as good as his direction. Rounding out the performers is Jason Bateman, Viola Davis and Chris Tucker, who each compliment their area of the story nicely.

Humor is also an aspect that is utilized well. Many films nowadays struggle to find the correct blend of humor and drama. “Air” manages to interweave the two nicely to create a lighthearted but heartfelt story that will certainly win audiences over. A reasonable runtime is also a nice feature. Audiences will be satisfied during their showing, feeling happily spent as the credits hit the screen.

I enjoyed how the story stuck to a simple premise, too. It didn’t overcomplicate itself with extended character exploration or talky sports subjects. The story flows organically which makes it easy for anyone to follow. Leave it to Ben Affleck to make me root for Nike, ha!

Negatives

After leaving my screening, I didn’t have many glaring issues with “Air.” I’ll admit that I’m not in a hurry to rewatch the film. It’s a great one-time watch that will impress sports and history fans for sure, I just don’t see it being one to garner multiple viewings.

While I find the underdog story inspiring, the idea of giving athletes an absurd amount of winnings (and at this point largely unproven) a bit exhausting. This isn’t a problem I have with the film, just an idea that lingered throughout the story. I find the idea of buying an 18-year-old a Mercedes, a large sum upfront and lifelong winnings of a shoe a bit over-the-top. It’s hard to fully feel inspired when athletes continue to demand such egregious amounts (largely at fans/consumers expense).

Conclusion

“Air” is a surprisingly refreshing drama that examines this story from a different perspective. Sonny Vaccaro’s grit and determination for growing Nike’s business provided a satisfying watch. The film is well paced and manages to relate to viewers who aren’t sports fans, which is a commendable feat.

Give “Air” a watch if you are a fan of Affleck’s direction or simply enjoy a good underdog story. Keep an eye out for this one during awards season.  

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