Air tells the true underdog story behind a stamp in worldwide culture — shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro, and how he led Nike’s pursuit of the greatest athlete in the history of basketball, Michael Jordan. We know how the story will end, but seeing the risks and passion of the characters is what makes the experience of watching Air pay off. The film is led by an all-star cast of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, and Viola Davis, who are all great — as well as Chris Messina who delivers a fantastic supporting performance as Jordan’s agent. Damon takes the spirit of a many who dared to think against the company’s norm and risk everything to aim extremely high in his belief that one athlete and one shoe can make the world better for all the sports fans, shoe-wearers and dreamers out there. That heart absolutely is felt with the audience, with the knowledge that Michael Jordan has in fact become one of the most inspirational figures in the world to people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Not only that, but the writing and directing make the business side of the rise of Air Jordan interesting, when the courtside aspect of the sport is absent. Also absent is Jordan as a character in the movie, which may distract for some, but the movie doesn’t outright suffer because of it. Davis is also excellent, showing a mother that gives everything to advocate for her son, and stands for the pure belief that her son will in fact change the world of basketball forever.
The turning of a pivotal moment in the NBA into a high-stakes, big dream from humble beginnings, that changed an industry forever, definitely reminds of the recent HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty, which would make a great companion piece to watch with Air. The 80s feel and soundtrack that director Ben Affleck gives the movie provides a feeling of the greatness that is right around the corner, that these dreamers at Nike are just about to achieve, and the rush of whether or not their hard work and putting everything on the line will convert to success and dreams into reality. Fans of Damon and Affleck, sports films, feel-good movies, and dramas should go to the big screen for this one that turns a business deal about a shoe into the fight of a generation that changed the world and raised the bar for what humans and dreamers can do.