‘Air’ Movie Review: Ben Affleck's Best Film Yet

Air movie review starring Matt Damon and Jason Bateman

Pulling double duty as director and supporting actor in AIR, Ben Affleck has managed to make a riveting movie out of a mundane story. Everyone knows how this story ends, but the cast and Affleck deliver a pulse-pounding drama with a lot of heart and gusto. AIR would make a great double feature with another sports-related film, JERRY MAGUIRE.

The Nike Air Jordan line made Michael Jordan and Nike a billion dollars richer and launched the sneaker culture. AIR tells the story of how Nike salesman Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) courted the NBA newcomer to sign exclusively with Nike. AIR is essentially a Cinderella story.

AIR is not a thriller, an action movie, or a fantasy film. It could be classified as a sports movie but the film doesn’t chart the rise of a basketball legend. Instead, it focuses entirely on Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro in his quest to recruit a basketball phenom who had no interest in signing with the shoe company. Corporations are usually the villains in stories with an individual battling that system but in AIR, Damon, and Nike are the underdogs.

Jordan is a minor character in the film, believe it or not. Affleck made the decision not to feature the sports icon to focus on the heart of the movie. A shoe salesman had a dream, and he pursued that mission despite all the obstacles. While Jordan's presence is felt, the approach worked 

But how do you make a movie about a sports legend without featuring the person? Storywise, AIR is a risky film to make since it doesn’t fit a mold, and it relies heavily on the cast to make it riveting. Affleck hired the best with Damon, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina,  and Affleck himself to occupy our minds with brilliant acting. Damon, most of all carries the burden of presenting a likable character to root for, but every single actor delivers the goods and keeps the viewer glued to their every move. Messina is a stand-out as the cutthroat sports agent who also provides the laughs.

AIR is a unique film in that it focuses on one plot line rather than creating subplots like a love story or plotting a character arc. There is none of that. The sole focus is on Vaccaro taking chances. Vaccaro is so sure of himself that he risks his career to find his prince and convince him to put on the glass slipper. 

For those of us who grew up in the 80s, the film features some of the most iconic songs for some added nostalgia from that decade. 

AIR is Affleck’s best film yet as a director. The filmmaker and actor pulled off a miracle because on paper the concept is a hard one to imagine. AIR is Affleck and Damon's first film under their new production banner, Artists Equity whose mission is to profit-share with the film's above-the-line crew.  The life-long best friends have started off on the right foot with a slam dunk. 

112 minutes | Rated R

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