Monday, April 3, 2023

Air, The Story of Nike and Michael Jordan, with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Justin Bateman, Viola Davis, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina

Not just for basketball or sports fans, Air profiles committed business professionals determined to revolutionize their company and influence culture worldwide with a new and highly attractive brand based entirely on one untested professional basketball player, Michael “Air” Jordan.

Ben Affleck (Argo, The Town, Batman vs. Superman) plays the tight pocketed CEO of Nike, Phil Knight, who wants the company to succeed, but approaches everything from a practical standpoint, much to the potential detriment of the company he is responsible for overseeing. As a result, he is skeptical of his very ambitious direct report, Sonny Vaccaro, played by Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Bourne Series), a visionary scout for Nike’s basketball shoe division who becomes increasingly frustrated with Knight’s reluctance to diversify its lines and add basketball shoes to its lucrative running shoe line. The inner workings of a major business follow throughout the film and prove to be a great storyline.

Sonny pushes the boundaries of corporate etiquette and tests relationships throughout the film, including with colleagues Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) and Howard White (Chris Tucker), both of whom respond with excellent humor to Sonny’s wild vision. Ultimately, he will test Michael Jordan’s mother, Deloris Jordan, played by Viola Davis (Widows, The Help, Fences).

With so much attention paid to cultural influencers in media today, the film is highly relevant, revealing, and entertaining. In addition, the linchpin of Nike’s mission throughout is arguably the greatest and most explosive basketball player to ever step foot on a court. That mission is simple: to compete with more successful basketball brands, Converse and Adidas, and recruit Jordan into the Nike ranks. The implications for future athletes and other influencers are obvious. Branding as we know it today originates in this film. We even get to see the final product.

Air is nothing short of a thriller, full of anticipation but more pleasurable to positive emotions and just fun to witness.

I give it 8 out of 10 stars.

Brendan Jones

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