“Air” just does it

New Air Jordan biopic is remarkable


Fair use from IMDb

John Hunter

On Oct. 26 1984, Sonny Vaccaro convinced 21 year old NBA rookie Michael Jordan to set aside his interest in footwear brands such as Converse and Adidas, thus persuading him to sign a deal with the footwear corporation Nike. This contract would redefine how footwear brands signed individual athletes from that moment on. On April 5, these events were brought to the big screens with the new drama, “Air.”

It’s 1984. Nike sales are down, and the company is struggling with growth. Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) is Nike’s sports marketing executive, tasked with finding three new players that Nike could sign to wear the company’s shoes. After losing hope that they could sign any of the top four picks in the NBA drafts, Vaccaro believes that the company shouldn’t sign three of the picks, but instead sign one. Specifically, the third pick, Michael Jordan. Vaccaro believed that Jordan is destined to be one of the greatest athletes of all time and that Nike should sign athletes based on their talent. 

Vaccaro goes behind the backs of his superiors, Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) and Howard White (Chris Tucker) trying time and time again to get a meeting with the Jordan family, but ends up just showing up at the family’s front door. Finally, he is able to convince Deloris Jordan (Viola Davis) and James Jordan (Julius Tennon) to meet with Nike about a sneaker contract, and try to convince Jordan to sign with Nike. 

I remember first seeing the trailer for “Air.” From the get go it was pretty clear that it was a biographical film (Biopic). But it was hard to tell if the movie was about Matt Damon’s character, or Michael Jordan. By the end of the trailer I could tell that this movie had an incredibly talented cast. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, the list goes on. One thing was for certain, I was looking forward to this movie, and it did not disappoint. 

Just to get it out of the way, the only thing about this movie that I didn’t like was that it felt short. Even though the movie is about a shoeline I think it could have gone on longer, and not felt as rushed as it did. 

My favorite thing about this movie was how fun it was. It has tons of lighthearted moments and comedic value, but it was able to get real and serious at times making for a good balance. The 80s setting adds so much to the film. The style of clothing, the cars and the music. The movie had an amazing soundtrack filled with 80s songs that brought so much to the film. My eyes were glued to the screen throughout the whole movie, I never got bored. It was engaging and exciting, which is always a plus. 

The movie does a great job at moving things forward and keeping the plot going. There’s never a break, which only adds to the excitement surrounding this movie. I don’t think there was ever a point in the movie where I didn’t understand what was happening, everything was made very clear as the story progressed making it easier to follow. 

Every performance in this movie is absolutely astonishing. Everything is impressive. I think each actor does a great job at portraying their role in their own unique way. Each actor displays the importance of having a crucial role at their company to their performance, and how it has an effect on their livelihood. I think Jason Bateman did this the best, and it was good to see some form of character development in this movie instead of none at all. It was refreshing to have a taste of humanity instead of everything being focused on businesses, contracts, and deals.

Viola Davis isn’t in the movie for an insane amount of time, but for the amount of time that she is in the film, her performance is outstanding. She does a great job at showing how much Deloris Jordan cares for her family, how she ran things, and got stuff done. She showed intimidation and control without being aggressive. It was all incredibly impressive.

That being said, you can’t talk about this movie without mentioning Matt Damon. Sonny Vaccaro is by far the most enjoyable character to watch. His love and passion for the game of basketball is beyond anything. And his faith in Michael Jordan as one of the greatest of all time is so heartwarming. Whenever he talks about Jordan it’s so sincere, it’s so personal. He feels so strongly and passionately about everything he does. And if he hadn’t had that passion, Nike would be a completely different company than it is today. 

“Air” is not only fun, but inspiring. Ben Affleck did a great job at directing this film and retelling the story behind the Air Jordan shoeline. If you’re looking for fun, emotion and inspiration all in one film. You can watch “Air,” streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

“Air”: ★★★★★