The cinematic version of dramatic events that already happened in the sports or media world has mostly had a very absorbing nature. The new Amazon studios movie Air, directed by Ben Affleck, starring his favorite collaborator Matt Damon in the prominent role, is a film that has that absorbing quality I just mentioned. This movie about how Nike signed Michael Jordan is interesting because of the angle they chose to narrate the story. With stellar performances, impressive lines, and a peppy speed, Air was one of the most pleasant takes on perseverance.
The year is 1984, and Nike’s talent scout head Sonny Vaccaro is under severe pressure as they badly needed some capable players to represent them in the NBA playoffs as they were on the verge of shutting down their basketball shoe wing. In the film, we see Vaccaro’s efforts to convince his own company to bet the whole marketing amount on one player, and then he tries to convince an ardent Adidas fan Michael Jordan and his family to believe in Nike.
If someone asks me whether Air will work for them? My immediate response will be whether they loved Money Ball and Ford v Ferrari. In terms of the emotional graph and the construction of drama, I found Air somewhat of a mixture of those two films. The movie’s writing is brilliant, and Alex Convery knows he can’t go cheesy to make it easy for the protagonists. The rapport of the team is shown to us through multiple disagreements. And interestingly, what made it all the more exciting for me was how they didn’t try to make the officials at Nike some kind of the epitome of ethics. The just-do-it backstory was hilarious. And they show how the desperation made them do cheeky stuff to convince Jordan and his family.
In all these true story-based sports dramas, there will be one scene that blurs the line between cinematic liberty and reality to elevate the film to the next level. One scene that would help the story to resolve the conflict. Shelby’s little speech to convince Mr. Ford to have fewer people interfere in his business was the scene that did the trick for Ford v Ferrari. I think the improvised board meeting speech of Sonny Vaccaro to convince Jordan, with the cutaway shots of what actually happened in the future, was that game-changing scene for Air. The humor we feel in the movie is derived mainly from the character quirks; hence, it doesn’t feel like they made it deliberately funny. I liked that moment in the final meeting where Sonny casually talks about the per-match fine and puts Phil in an awkward position.
As Sonny Vaccaro, Matt Damon is the movie’s central character. As the out-of-shape expert who never gives up on trying to convince people, Matt has done a really great job, and he made sure that Sonny’s adamance to fight the higher officials looked different from Shelby’s. Jason Bateman as Rob Strasser was a convincing choice, and there are one or two moments in the film where Bateman gets the limelight to present his character’s personal side. Ben Affleck as the impulsive Phil Knight was fun to watch. Viola Davis, as Deloris Jordan had that vision and sharpness one would imagine in such a mother character. Chris Tucker, in his typical style but with less eccentricity, felt like a perfect choice.
By choosing to ignore the perspective of the main man Michael Jordan’s perspective in the entire film, Alex Convery and director Ben Affleck puts themselves in a challenging scenario as developing curiosity for such a situation becomes a task. But by creating scenes with palpable energy and by maintaining an enthusiastic rhythm, Air manages to be an engrossing watch despite the script having sporadic moments of familiar treatment.
By creating scenes with palpable energy and by maintaining an enthusiastic rhythm, Air manages to be an engrossing watch despite the script having sporadic moments of familiar treatment.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended