Film Review: Air – 8.5/10

‘You are remembered for the rules you break...’

The time has come for us all to accept that Ben Affleck is one of the finest directors of his generation. Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Argo and now Air (I haven’t yet seen Live by Night). Sure, I’m biased because I love Affleck with my heart and soul (he was the bomb in Phantoms, after all) but the stats speak for themselves. Air sees him reunite with his long-term buddy and collaborator Matt Damon and the results are simply delightful…

It’s 1984 and Nike is struggling. Adidas and Converse are dominating the sneaker market and Nike is failing to keep up. But they have one last Hail Mary up their sleeve. Shoe salesman and basketball enthusiast Sonny Vaccaro (Damon) sees something in up-and-coming rookie Michael Jordan (Damian Delano Young) and attempts to persuade Nike CEO Phil Knight (Affleck) and head of sales Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) to risk it all and shoot for the moon. The rest, as they say, is Affleck. Wait. History. I meant history.

This is not all about Affleck, however. Damon is superb in the kind of everyman role that he was born to play. While they have both enjoyed incredible careers individually, there is a special magic that comes from seeing these two old friends sparring it out on screen again. Affleck plays against type as a buttoned-up executive type but still knocks it out of the park despite his questionable wig. All of this would be nothing without first-time writer Alex Convery’s exemplary script. Nostalgic, warm and funny, his screenplay ticks every box I look for in a mainstream movie. Elsewhere, Viola Davis is inspiring and assertive as Jordan’s mother Deloris, Chris Messina has a blast as the Ari Gold-esque sports agent David Falk and the soundtrack is what The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack aspires to be – a wonderful mixture of classics and obscure gems that perfectly sums up the mid-80s. Put simply, Affleck gets everything right here, including the decision to keep Jordan on the outskirts of the story barely glimpsed but always present. This isn’t a story about Michael Jordan, it’s a story about taking risks and breaking rules.

Air is a biopic that plays like a sports movie that will be catnip for fans of Kevin Costner movies and films like Steve Jobs, The Founder and The Social Network. I adored it.