FILM REVIEW: Air
Director Ben Affleck’s latest feature Air tells the true story of how shoe manufacturer Nike created the Air Jordans, including one marketing executive’s search for the greatest basketball player of all time. The corporate journey of how a shoe got made doesn’t exactly sound like ripe material for a film, but Air manages to make the journey interesting and engaging.
Beyond the opening montage of 80s nostalgia and the frequent needle-drops of 80s hits, Affleck does a good job of establishing historical context, giving a comprehensive account of Nike’s standing in the trainer industry at the time versus their opponents Adidas and Converse. Using our own perceptions against us, Air surprises the audience by showing us a time when Nike was not on top, despite us knowing where this journey inevitably leads.
The film could have easily felt long-winded and tedious were it not for its plucky cast of A-listers. Matt Damon plays likeable everyman Sonny Vaccaro who comes up with the idea to invest in Michael Jordan, Ben Affleck has a smaller role as the eccentric and resistant Nike CEO Phil Knight and Viola Davis gives a powerful performance as the matriarch of the Jordans. You also have likeable performances from Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans and the charismatic Chris Tucker who pretty much steals every scene he’s in. Bolstered by a real, subtle sense of humour throughout, this cast endears the audience to the interesting story being told, in which we see all the different cogs at work in making the Air Jordans.
Air is a sports movie less for the jocks and more for the marketing geeks. At first glance it may not seem the most exciting premise, but likeable characters and an interesting story make this as engaging and inspiring as some of the best sports movies.