By Joanna Langfield

Ben Affleck pumps enough air into a behemoth branding story to make us all fly.

It may be hard to think of a gigantic corporation like Nike as an underdog, but in this retelling of the marriage between the company and potential basketball superstar Michael Jordan, it is the company that’s got it’s back against the wall. This division might fold. People will lose their jobs. Until they go for broke and bet it all on signing one kid, just entering the NBA.

From its quick cut, pumped up start, director Affleck makes sure we know just where we are. It’s the 80’s baby, complete with gas guzzling cars, bulky telephones and lots of hair. Throughout, the pulsing classic rock soundtrack revs us up into the go-go-go energy of the time. This movie, like so many before, has fun with all that. And that fun is contagious. Even when we’re talking about a business deal worth multi-millions of dollars.

Why should we care about that? Writer Alex Convery makes sure we understand this is not just about sneakers, but about THE sneaker. The Air Jordan which is still bringing in gazillions in sales a year. And, in making that deal, history was also forged. Michael Jordan’s mother negotiated him not just a signing package and a car, she got him a percentage deal of all the sales. No athlete had ever been paid that before.

Impressive stuff. But what I loved even more is the generous direction Affleck allows his actors.

Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker and Marlon Wayans are all terrific, Chris Messina nails the opportunity I’ve always hoped he would get and Viola Davis brings a beautiful understanding to the deserving Deloris Jordan. What a treat it is to see Affleck and Damon bounce off one another in some scenes. But the movie centers around Matt Damon and he’s just great.

AIR might not have the poetic elegance of some of Affleck’s other work, but damn, it’s fun. And a nice addition to his impressive filmography.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.