Don Reviews "Air"
There will always be the debate about the best business decisions ever made. From Apple hiring Steve Jobs back to Henry Ford doubling wages to attract talent in order to increase production and even to even the WWE deciding to go national over regional to broaden their audience, these are all great examples. Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort in Air tells another story that is truly in that discussion.
Based on the story of Nike and it’s attempt to change the basketball shoe game by signing Michael Jordan in 1984, Affleck plays CEO Phil Knight at a time when they were doing poorly in the basketball shoe market. Instead of trying to sign multiple new rookies with NBA potential, Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) decides to gamble the entire annual endorsement budget on Jordan, who is fresh out of the University of North Carolina. Vaccaro (a gambler himself with a knack for recognizing talent) feels that signing Jordan would be a once in a generation deal, and he works outside of the traditional system to get that deal done and change the course of history.
With the number of seasoned pros like Affleck, Damon, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, and Jason Bateman, and I cannot think of any performance that disappointed me. However, if I have to give a shout out it would go to Matthew Maher as shoe designer Peter Moore who brings a special demeanor and style that sets him apart. I also liked the choice of the use of Damian Delano Young playing the young Jordan by using him VERY minimally to also symbolize his resistance to even meet with Nike given how far behind the curve they really were. Jordan himself is more represented in archival footage, and that worked eve more for me. Given the pattern Hollywood has been using with the length of films like this, Air does not clear the two-hour mark, and that was fully alright by me. Knowing how this story ends (and I think we all do), made it that much better.
Being mostly filmed in California, Nike headquarters in Oregon is actually represented very well here. There was no need to have a lot of pizzazz, and that is what I loved about it; Air is a simple story, and that is what Affleck delivers by bringing business, relationships, trust, and even a bit of comedy. At this point, this is my favorite film of 2023, so of course it easily earns my coveted recommendation of full price in the theaters.