Wednesday, April 5, 2023


I have to say, I'm really enjoying the last few years of Matt Damon's career. You could easily slot Air into an entertaining double-feature with either The Martian or Ford v Ferrari. Using a well-worn Hollywood trope of an underdog fighting the odds, Air stars Damon as Nike salesman Sonny Vaccaro who in the mid-1980s pushed the running shoe company into an unlikely deal by signing rookie basketball star Michael Jordan to an industry-changing contract.

With Vaccaro as the driving force, we also get Ben Affleck (who also directs), Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, and Matthew Maher as key contributors to creating what would become the Air Jordan brand and turn a third-place shoe company thinking of getting out of basketball altogether into the industry leader. And that this epic quest is over something as innocuous as a shoe contract of all things makes it all the more joyous. Also of note are Chris Messina as Jordan's agent and Viola Davis and Julius Tennon as the college basketball star's parents.

Built around Damon's performance, we watch the gambler with a silver tongue slowly convince everyone else at the company, and even Jordan's parents, that Nike is the right fit for the basketball player despite all the obstacles involved (including a limited budget and a client in Jordan, and his agent, who had no interest in working with Nike). We get some nice moments of Damon with Affleck, Tucker, and Viola Davis as the unlikely partnership begins to pick up some steam. And Maher steals a scene or two as the company's shoe guru responsible for the design of the original Air Jordan sneakers.

Much like Ford v Ferrari, we get the thrill of the chase after what seems initially like an unachievable goal, and the comedy that comes out of those moments, along with some quiet dramatic moments (including a serious conversation between Damon and Bateman's characters about the harsh truth of what they are risking) that balance out what is a thoroughly fun time at the movies. My only real complaint is Air gets a bit heavy-handed at times in the glory Vaccaro saw for Jordan (while admittedly scoffing at others who later jumped on the bandwagon claiming they always knew he'd be great). While it works as part of the gambling salesman's charm, it does come on a bit much in a couple key scenes of the film.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Air
  • IMDb: link

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