We review Ben Affleck’s excellent Nike drama Air, starring Matt Damon, now streaming on Prime Video.
PLOT: In 1984, Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) tries to recruit Michael Jordan as a Hail Mary to save the fledgling basketball shoes division.
REVIEW: Ben Affleck’s Air allows the director to play to all his strengths as a director and actor. Like Argo, it shines a light on an intriguing event from the eighties, but unlike that film, the stakes here aren’t necessarily life and death. This is not a minor movie. It is a fascinating and entertaining look at the history of the historic deal that saw Michael Jordan sign with Nike. This deal changed the way athletes were compensated around the world. He is a passionate basketball player who is trying to make Nike popular among basketball players, at a time that Nike was not hip. Converse was the most popular sneaker and Adidas gained momentum as the “coolest” brand due to its placement in hip-hop music videos. The movie spends a lot of time showing the frustration among all parties, who know that they have a superior product. Ben Affleck plays Phil Knight, Nike’s colourful CEO. He has a perm, wears loud tracksuits to work, and is a bit of a yuppie send-up. Knight, who initially appears to be a yuppie from the eighties, is shown as a savvy boss who believes in the employees he has, especially Vaccaro. His gambles are not always successful. It was a big gamble because no one knew what MJ would be like at the time. We all know the outcome but we don’t really know what went on. Much time is spent on Vaccaro and his respectful relationship with Jordan’s business-savvy mom, Deloris, (played by the great Viola Davis), whose son wants to get his fair share of any profits made from his name. The film is shot to resemble an older Robert Richardson movie, and Affleck had Tangerine Dream compose the score. Notably, the pace is kept tight, with the film running a lean, disciplined 112 minutes, with no fat on the bone whatsoever.
Affleck really has made a movie that sits nicely on the shelf next to
, and it seems sure to be a crowd-pleaser, even if you’re not a sports fan. The acting is excellent, not just from Damon and Affleck who are well served by Alex Convery’s script, but also from the entire supporting cast. Chris Messina plays Jordan’s sharky (but not cartoonish) agent. Marlon wayans, as George Raveling the college coach, delivers a monologue that is one of the most memorable in the movie. He explains why you should listen to your instincts. Affleck has a lot of fun telling the story.
is a great package. It has one of the most amazing soundtracks this year. The needle drops range from Bruce Springsteen’s to Axel F. Affleck repurposes PinoDonaggio’s Body Double main theme as a complement to the Tangerine Dream score. It’s an interesting touch in a film that’s filled with them. While Air
will bow on Prime Video within a few months, it’s definitely a movie that delivers on the big screen and a rare adult drama people should go out and support.8