On the surface, there is no reason the movie Air (2023) should work. It’s a film about the inner workings of Nike, a sneaker company, a clear #3 in the basketball world, trying to get players to endorse and wear their product. It sounds as though it could be boring.
Yet I was captivated at the onset, from the opening montage of 1984 images – “Where’s the beef,” Mr. T on the A-Team – to the musical selections. The key, though, was driven by Alex Convery in his debut as a screenwriter. The dialogue was fresh without being affected.
Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) is a middle-aged, overweight guy with a radical plan. Instead of trying to sign three or four rookie prospects to put on the foot apparel as usual, Nike should commit the entire budget to one player. Sonny violates corporate protocol to try to get Michael Jordan to agree to sign with them.
While getting some support from his colleague Howard White (Chris Tucker), Sonny is getting resistance from his boss Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), and especially Nike head honcho Phil Knight (Ben Affleck.) To contact Michael, he has to deal with the athlete’s mother Doloris (Viola Davis).
There’s no need to fear
This is a sports story about an underdog. But the underdog is not Michael, though the actual player had been underestimated in the past. The underdog is Nike, and especially Sonny.
Interestingly, the character Michael himself barely appears in the film. The creators decided, probably rightly, that the actor would be unfavorably compared with the real deal. Thus the shots of Michael (Damien Young) are usually from his back. He barely speaks. Film clips of Michael are used, especially near the end.
The acting is solid throughout, and director Ben Affleck keeps the mostly talk-driven film moving. It was reviewed well.
BTW, at least seven movies on the IMDb titled Air in this century alone exist. I saw the MJ-related Air at the Madison Theatre in Albany at a Wednesday afternoon matinee on the last day it played there, along with two other people.
Before the movie, there were trailers for three movies. One was for the Dungeons and Dragons film, and another was for Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
The first was the red band trailer for Sisu. “When an ex-soldier who discovers gold in the Lapland wilderness tries to take the loot into the city, Nazi soldiers led by a brutal SS officer battle him.” It was quite violent; you can find it on YouTube, but I’m not linking it.
From the New York Times: “The Finnish way of life is summed up in ‘sisu,’ a trait said to be part of the national character. The word roughly translates to “grim determination in the face of hardships,” such as the country’s long winters: Even in adversity, a Finn is expected to persevere, without complaining.”