“Air” displays an influential leap of faith

Six years after Ben Affleck’s previous directorial outing, “Live by Night,” he returns to tell the story of the creation of the Air Jordan shoe. I didn’t expect the story to be nearly as interesting as it is, but it is one of the best and most compelling movies of the year, so far.

“Air,” released on April 5, focuses on Nike trying to improve their basketball division to beat out their competitors: Converse and Adidas, in 1984. Sonny Vaccaro (played by Matt Damon), Nike’s marketing executive, is tasked with finding and funding 3 college basketball players for Nike to endorse. In his search, he puts his career and Nike on the line to only endorse and fund the young Michael Jordan before he became the world changing player that we all know today.

I have very little negative or even nitpicky things to say about this film; I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. It kept my interest throughout the whole movie, made possible due to the film’s pacing and writing. Written by Alex Convery, the writing is the standout of the film. This is especially impressive as this is Convery’s first screenplay, or at least his first screenwriting credit. This is also the first time Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have co-starred in a movie they didn’t write. It is laugh out loud funny, knowing when to be silly and when to tone it down and handle drama.

Ben Affleck made the 80s style noticeable and effective for the exciting nature of the film. He makes great licensed music choices, and properly dresses his co-stars to the time period. An interesting aspect Affleck brings to the movie is a retro aura that adds a VHS look to the picture. The change is subtle but it is a very cool addition to achieve escapism.

The cast is star-studded with the likes of Affleck (“Batman v Superman”), Damon (“Ford v Ferrari”), Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”), Viola Davis (“The Woman King”), and Chris Tucker (“Rush Hour”). They’re all an extension of the script in how they balance humor and seriousness which makes for a tonally coherent and dynamic film.

The musical score is one of the few examples of a synth film score that works in recreating the 80s. Too often they sound forced and thin, but here it is used sparingly and appropriately. As I previously stated, the licensed music soundtrack is full of classics and the score excellently pairs with the soundtrack to make a feel of the 80s escape.

I really appreciate how reverent the film is to Nike as well as the other companies and people involved in the plot. There’s not a comment made that isn’t a clear depiction of its status in 1984. Another aspect I really respect is that they intentionally never show Michael Jordan’s face, even though a young Jordan appears multiple times throughout the film. This was in order to ensure the film’s focus remains about the creation of the Air Jordan and who made it instead of becoming about the man who wore them.

While the VHS aura was very cool, it was also a little hard to look at when the camera would pan. It made the image slightly blurry and hard to focus on something in frame. This was not a big deal whatsoever but it was a little hard to keep my eyes on the screen when the camera was panning. Also, I love sports movies and although this is a very good and interesting story, it is not one I’m going to revisit any time soon. If I’m going to watch a sports movie, this is nowhere near my first choice.

So far, this is in my top 3 movies of the year. Go support the film in a theater near you if you can find one showing it, if not, support it when it comes to Prime Video in May. I give this film a 4 / 5.