AIR Review – Affleck, Davis, and Damon Take Your Breathe Away

Ben Affleck's latest film AIR features a cast that includes Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, and Chris Tucker
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AIR is a brand new movie from Amazon Studios set to hit theaters on April 5th. We all know the story of Michael Jordan and his rise to greatness, but some of us might not know how one man risked it all to ensure that Nike closed the deal to sign Jordan to a contract. Can it be the latest in the sports movie world to hit a slam dank? Or will it fall short of greatness? Let’s take a look.

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Ben Affleck as Phil Knight in AIR Photo: COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

The Plot

AIR follows the story of Sonny Vaccaro, the shoe salesman who led Nike in pursuit of the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan.

The Critique

Personally, walking into this movie, I didn’t have a single clue about the story of Nike signing Jordan, so I was already looking forward to a bit of a history lesson. When the movie starts, we learn that Nike is running behind Converse and Adidas in shoe sales. CEO Phil Knight brought in Sonny Vaccaro to change the landscape and sign more prominent stars, which hasn’t happened yet. Vaccaro set his sights on the unachievable goal of Michael Jordan.

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One of the more creative risks that Alex Convery and Ben Affleck took with this story is making it about Michael Jordan but not about Michael Jordan at the same time. Of course, we all know what happens, Jordan signs with Nike, and the rest is history. However, it wasn’t as simple as that, and we find out that Deloris Jordan, played by the exceptional Viola Davis, was the true driving force behind Jordan’s deals.

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There is a meeting early on between Sonny and Deloris that is brief and, quite frankly, to the point, but it was so vital to set the stage for who Deloris is in the bigger picture. There are very few singular characters in my time of watching films that profoundly impact the overall story and have little screen time as I was Deloris. I credit Convery’s writing and Affleck’s direction for his building of this character.

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Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro in AIR Photo: ANA CARBALLOSA © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

Matt Damon has been acting for a long time, but he gives hands down the best performance of his career as Sonny Vaccaro. Vaccaro is an interesting character because he oozes with confidence in his job but otherwise is somewhat of a loaner. It meant more to him, and Damon
brought that underdog yet a confidence-filled man to life in a way that you find yourself emotionally connecting to his journey. Again, we know how the story ends, but you are actively rooting for Vaccaro, and it’s because of Damon.

I mentioned the importance of Deloris Jordan and her importance to the story. Viola Davis, my goodness, continues proving that she is one of the greatest actresses of all time. I give a ton of credit to Affleck and Convery, but Davis brings home Deloris in several scene-stealing moments that leave you speechless. I am in awe of this woman’s ability to captivate the screen that only she can.

Viola Davis as Deloris Jordan in AIR Photo: COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC
The ensemble is fantastic, including a tremendous supporting performance by Jason Bateman as Rob Strasser. In one scene, he deconstructs Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” which is
pure genius. Chris Tucker as Howard White and Ben Affleck as Phil Knight also stand out. Speaking of the music, the tone of this film is set by this incredible montage to start the movie, putting us in the mood for the era we are in. Affleck (he chose all the songs himself) crafts his song choices that range from Springsteen to Cindy Lauper to using the Beverly Hills Cop theme, and I can’t wait to on this vinyl.

In Conclusion

Overall, Ben Affleck hits nothing but the net with yet another incredibly directed film featuring a career-best from Matt Damon and an ensemble to die for. AIR is hands down the best movie of the first quarter of 2023, and I find it hard-pressed that this won’t make many year-end lists. This one demands to be seen on the big screen.

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8/10

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Written by Ricky Valero

Articles Published: 71596

Ricky Valero is based in Nashvile, TN. He has a huge passion for film and tv. He is a proud member of the Hollywood Critics Association. While not watching movies, he has a huge love for crappy reality dating shows.