Hey readers! I’m back with your Friday Film Forecast. This week I’ll be talking about Ben Affleck’s new film, “Air.”
I will start by saying that I was not expecting a film about an athletic shoe’s creation to be this good. But the film's humor, characters, 80’s aesthetic and plot allowed for a very enjoyable viewing experience and a nice addition to my Letterboxd portfolio.
“Air” is a sports biopic focusing on the 1984 deal at Nike to secure Michael Jordan as a brand partner. With a falling sales market, joining the basketball world and finding a high-profile athlete to sponsor their kicks was their only way to achieve financial success and a name in the shoe business.
The film starts off with an MTV-esque montage of various 1980s media, with flashes from shows like Knight Rider and The A-Team, music from Cyndi Lauper and an assortment of 80’s games and toys accompanied by a jump scare of Ronald Reagan.
The montage leads into the introduction of the star-studded cast: Matt Damon playing recruiter Sonny Vaccaro, Jason Bateman playing sports marketer Rob Strasser and Ben Affleck as Nike CEO Phil Knight. The team has a meeting to pick their basketball sponsors; while most of the team aims low, Sonny Vaccaro wants to go big — Michael Jordan big.
With Vaccaro’s ambition and disregard for business ethics, they secure a meeting with Jordan and his parents, played by Viola Davis and Julius Tennon. Despite already having a contract set with Adidas, the meeting marked a turning point for Nike and Jordan's future relationship.
I knew the deal was going to work out in the end, but the film achieved such suspense to the point I almost forgot I was wearing Air Jordans.
The dialogue and acting felt cohesive and strong throughout the entire film. The peak of the performance comes when Vaccaro attempts to get a meeting with Jordan by calling his agent David Falk, played by Chris Messina.
The phone call was tense and full of back-and-forth insults so absurd they became humorous, leaving the theater audibly laughing. The chemistry between Messina and Damon was undeniable, and the laughs from Damon’s character often felt unscripted.
Another notable acting moment was from Matthew Maher, who played Nike shoe engineer Peter Moore. Moore was the highlight of this movie. His passion for shoes is unprecedented and incredibly wholesome. So much so that they give him credit for the name “Air Jordan,” despite David Falk’s split-second mention of the name idea in his whirlwind of insults to Vaccaro on the phone.
The entirety of the film surrounding basketball took me back to watching my sibling play the sport every weekend as a child, wearing their Lakers and Miami Heat jerseys together while we watched games and filled out our March Madness brackets. The nostalgia “Air” created for me definitely affected my high opinions of the movie.
This movie overall was highly enjoyable and left me surprised at how much of an emotional connection I had to it. The film keeps you engaged with its witty dialogue, strong acting, soundtrack (bonus shoutout to Bruce Springsteen) and plot.
My one complaint about this movie was the excessive camera shots of Affleck’s feet — which is no surprise after learning the cinematographer of “Air” has worked on numerous Quentin Tarantino films.
But with that being said, this week's film forecast calls for a partly cloudy rating of four stars.
“Air” is currently in theaters. Go see it while you still can!
Elaina Johnson (she/her) is a fourth-year political science major who has previously copy edited and been editor-in-chief for The Front. This quarter she is the opinions and outreach editor. She hopes to make engaging stories this quarter and reconnect with the community through various outreach. In her free time outside of The Front, she can be found watching movies, writing chaotic Letterboxd reviews and drinking oat milk chai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.