I am unapologetically a huge Larry Bird and Boston Celtics fan. I was very much aware of the show contract he had with Converse when I was a kid. His rivalry with Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers was epic and he was with Converse as well. I knew sneakers were an important part of merchandising and building up these two stars and teams. Not until I saw that Micheal Jordan had signed with Nike had I realized how important this would become. It’s the most important shoe deal in sports history and changed the way we look at marketing athletes and their likenesses. Air is that story and how it happened.
Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) is an employee in the basketball shoe department for Nike in 1984. His job is to convince young up-and-coming stars to sign show deals with Nike. At the time third in the basketball shoe market. After a series of events he decides he’s going to try to convince Michael Jordan to sign with Nike even though he has come out and said he was going to sign with Adidas. This story involves talking to his agent David Falk (Chris Messina) and his mother, played by Academy Award winner Viola Davis.
The film takes place in 1984 so a lot of the aesthetics of that time are very much present in the making of the movie. For instance, the cinematography by Robert Richardson leans in on the grain of film during this era, and the style of filmmaking by him and Affleck very much shows this. There is a little bit of a problem with shallow depth of field but that’s all part of the style which Affleck and Richardson chose to go with. A lot of close-ups were used as well to get the emotions from the characters’ faces. The pours of the character’s faces were very prevalent.
Ben Affleck usually acts in the movies he directs but not always. He assembles a great cast of actors for this movie and they all add their unique abilities to this fantastic story. Besides Damon, there are Jason Bateman and Chris Tucker who both are Nike employees. They add a fun element to the cast. Chris Messina and Viola Davis are both pretty awesome in their roles. Messina is the agent of Jordan and he fights tooth and nail for him and uses an interesting lively conversation style while talking on the phone with Damon’s character. These conversations will surely garner a lot of laughs. While Davis is more important in the overall decision-making process, she turns a small role in this story into a very strong character. She is incredible as JJordan’smother as well as his main spokesperson.
As a huge sports fan, I was very aware of Michael Jordan during his entire career. He wasn’t my favorite player but I have no denying that he is the absolute best player in the history of the NBA. This deal changed sports forever. The way marketing athletes was done has changed at this point as well. Matt Damon’s character believed in signing him and that concept. Damon has had a few duds recently in his career but I think this is one of the best performances of his career. He brings an emotional stability to this role like none before. He works very well with his Good Will Hunting co-star and best friend for decades Ben Affleck. They have a shorthand that is very noticeable in their performances. And actor-director relationship. It was good to see them working together once again.
Air is another story of the behind-the-scenes of something. Which has become all the rave lately. With Tetris, The Offer, and Blackberry so many others that have come out in recent years. These types of stories have become a major part of the lexicon because a lot of the people who lived through these events are now the ones making these films and television shows. They just bring a nostalgia factor for people like me and others in my age bracket. This film is no exception. It almost brought tears because of how much I cared about everything I was watching on screen. It just brought back so many memories for me.
Air is a win no matter how you look at it and my participation couldn’t prepare me for how emotional I was going to get watching this movie. The cast including Messina, Davis, and especially Damon are phenomenal. The direction and cinematography by Affleck and Richardson are very good and play into the whole 80s vibe of what the film is going for. This story was very emotional for me because I was ten when it happened and I remember it vividly. It’s such an important story and it was done so great. This is definitely an Oscar contender in multiple categories. Amazon Prime has an absolute winner on their hands.
Dan Skip Allen