Stepping into shoe history, Ben Affleck’s “Air,” reveals the business deal of a lifetime and how Nike revolutionized the industry in conjunction with the legendary Michael Jordan. This origin story, inspired by true events, exemplifies the risks taken to the path towards greatness, which ultimately reached beyond the world of basketball and into our everyday, ordinary lives. The film’s script says it best as the sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro, masterfully played by Matt Damon, simply puts it, “His story is gonna make us want to fly.”
The film sends viewers into instant nostalgia as a montage of iconic 1984 culture comes together to set the tone for the rest of the movie. Along with the visual representation, the film includes a complete ’80s soundtrack meticulously threaded into the script, with classics such as “Money For Nothing,” by Dire Straits, “All I Need is a Miracle” by Mike + The Mechanics and “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon to name a few.
Vaccaro enters the screen as the audience is exposed to his hustling persona and expertise in the recruiting field. Perceived and marketed as a running sneaker, Nike is at the bottom of the basketball division under companies such as Converse and Adidas, which are dominating the courts. There is a desperate need for growth as Nike is at the point of throwing in the towel for this expanded vision of the business. Co-founder and CEO Phil Knight, brilliantly played by Ben Affleck, won’t budge with the dwarf budget assigned for the department. In search of players around the nation, recruiting the best of the best for a shoe line is not in the cards for the underdogs.
Rookie Michael Jordan is the first pick for those who can sniff out talent, however, Vaccaro sees something deeper in the kid that quickly became a general fan favorite. The spark he sees in Jordan is strong enough to prompt him to invest the whole budget on one player, even reimagining the shoe to be inspired from him, not just for him. However, Michael’s stubbornness to only go with the other shoe brands is quickly made clear as he does not plan on hearing them out. Breaking formality and risking not just his career, but the whole department stationed in Beaverton, Oregon, Vaccaro decides to try another avenue, Michael’s parents. The wise Deloris Jordan, played thoughtfully by Viola Davis, ultimately plants the seed to the industry’s lucrative revolution and partnership of Michael Jordan with Nike. She later goes on to repeat the mantra Vaccaro said, with her own spin, expressing, “A shoe is just a shoe until my son steps into it.”
Flying above expectations, “Air” is entertaining at every turn. The chemistry between the cast, specifically the reuniting of longtime best-friends Damon and Affleck, pulled off the sarcastically spunky dialog that kept viewers engaged the whole time. Directed more towards an older audience, the homage the film pays to the past adds another amusing attribute to the roots of one of the best known sneakers of all time.
Who better to take and enjoy the movie with me than my mom, who grew up loving the sport and even earning a position on the Columbia University Basketball Women’s team. She expressed, “As soon as the opening song launched, I felt the rush of nostalgia and loved every song that took me along the journey of the incredible story of how Nike became more than just a running sneaker. The dialogue was witty and entertaining. As a former basketball player, growing up at the height of Michael Jordan’s career, the movie gave me all kinds of feels!”
Movie Times: Click Here
Genre: Drama, Sport
Director: Ben Affleck
Actors: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, Julius Tennon, Marlon Wayans
Run Time: 1hr 51m
Rating: R (for language throughout)