Combustible Celluloid Review - Air (2023), Alex Convery, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Matthew Maher, Marlon Wayans
Combustible Celluloid
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
Own it:
With: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Matthew Maher, Marlon Wayans
Written by: Alex Convery
Directed by: Ben Affleck
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout
Running Time: 112
Date: 04/04/2023

Air (2023)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Shoe Believers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Functionally directed by Ben Affleck, and with far too many period pop tunes, this Great American "triumph-of-the-underdog" story isn't exactly a three-pointer, but it's at least a solid lay-up.

It's the early 1980s, and the Nike Corporation is struggling in distant third place behind competitors Converse and Adidas. Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) calls a meeting of the basketball division to try to figure out how to spend their meager $250,000 annual budget. He urges them to pick out three lower-tier players, but Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) insists that this way leads to failure.

He has a more audacious idea: why not spend all the money trying to get star player Michael Jordan, and, rather than having him wear just any old shoe, offer him his own shoe, the Air Jordan. To do this, Sonny must get around his boss, company CEO Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), and slimy agent David Falk (Chris Messina), and get in touch with Jordan's mother, Deloris (Viola Davis), to convince her. His scheme almost works, but the Jordan family makes one more demand, something that has never before been done.

Air relies on many "sitting-in-a-room-and-talking" shots as well as several "phone-conversation" scenes, and then tries to pump these moments up with his large selection of songs, one of which seems to pop up about every five minutes. And there's too much dialogue that "predicts" the future, designed so that viewers can nod along in recognition.

It's not a dynamic movie, but perhaps thanks to the fine performances — which is to be expected in a movie directed by an actor — the energy is there, and it becomes undeniably exciting. Moreover, this is not a movie about the amassing of great wealth. It's more about regular folks simply keeping their jobs (and, in some cases, their identities), and about a Black family setting a new precedent so that others may follow.

Ultimately, it's the characters that count in Air; we get to know them well enough that their setbacks and victories mean something.

Movies Unlimtied