Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are back together again after The Last Duel as producers and co-stars in this brand biopic disguised as a taut sports Ama direct with some verve by the former known for his films like The Town and Oscar-winner Argo.
Air is set in the bustling, clunky mid 80s revealing a cultural breakthrough with the release of the Nike Air Jordan sneaker. The creation of an enormously successful product came from a fledgling basketball division of a company which really benefitted from middle0class joggers.
The fuzziness of business meetings, boardroom wrangling serve Alex Convery’s spy script with blistering passages of dialogue. As Affleck locates the time frame in detail through the look, wardrobes and songs which captured the airwaves.
Damon’s wry Sonny Vaccaro has the paunchy, sharpshooting marketing chap down into those videotapes (channeling a little of his informant role) and Affleck is the aphoristic, hirsute, Buddhist Nike CEO Phil Knight in a track suit (jogging aficionado) clearly wary of what may be at stake.
The cast list is pretty inspired (given the Hall of Fame drafted by the Chicago Bulls’ input) with Chris Tucker as fast-talking Howard White, Jason Bateman (Up In The Air) as marketing vice-president Rob Strasser, Marion Wayans as George Raveling, and Julius Tennon as dad James R. Jordon. The filmmaker’s ace-in-hole happens to be Viola Davis’ mom Deloris who was instrumental in how the partnership was really secured. She provides he necessary empathy and strength that goes a long way to a major sponsorship deal.
Often engrossing and well-acted a presumably cool cinematic foray into sliding into a generational, world-wide commercialized figure may not be the risk taker it could have been. Yet, it makes interesting, savvy maneuvers given the general knowledge of the outcome. Even if some might find the courting a tad curious given how Jordan himself (played by Damian Delano Young) appears mostly at a distance or from behind.