‘Air’ Aims High With An Inspiring Sports Drama

Air, directed by Ben Affleck and written by Alex Convery, stars Affleck and a roster of stars, including Viola Davis, Chris Tucker, and Matt Damon. The film charts the fledgling basketball division at Nike's origins in recruiting the illustrious Michael Jordan, thereby becoming the powerhouse it is today.

While some directorial shots feel misplaced or self-aggrandizing, these moments are brief. The cast and story in Air deliver a moving piece filled with a surprising amount of laughter, smiles, and an empowering message that the way “things are done” must change.

Air Cast Delivers Heights With Little Deflation

Matt Damon, as Sonny, is the primary character of the story. He's considered a guru and tasked with finding the name to propel Nike's basketball division. Sonny's the one determined to get Michael to sign with Nike. Matt Damon's performance But without a great cast surrounding him, he'd be dull as dishwater. Jason Bateman has those moments of light humor and earnestness that bring Sonny's “dream big” sentiments down to earth. After all, Air sets the stakes that this can cost them their jobs. You root for underdog, Nike, to win out against Converse and Adidas no matter how ridiculous that sounds aloud. Ben Affleck delivers clumsy, comedic awkwardness as well.

Chris Messina, as David Falk, is magnificent with every scene-stealing moment. That's saying something considering the powerhouse of players in this film. He is spunky, loud, and cutthroat. Messina needs more roles that showcase his ability to execute well-timed zingers. Viola Davis's subdued performance is no less powerful, as the spokesperson for Michael Jordan.

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Image Credit: Prime Video

As Chris Tucker's character says, the Black mom usually “runs the household. Her depiction of strength and grace is beguiling and inspiring. Chris Tucker is his usual hilarious self and is the source of all the jokes about white people and Black people.

Dialogue That Lingers After Credits Roll

There's more to the movie than a biography about one iconic sports player and Nike. Corporate greed and ignorance about Black culture play a role and, in fact, almost cost them their deal. Air has plenty of great dialogue and monologues. One comes after Sonny and Chris Tucker, thankfully notice a flat reception when they play their video with “I Can Dream About You.” Even I, who knows and loves that song, shook my head immediately. This scene screams, “know your audience,” with an added, “I know they didn't.” But this brings out an impressive speech from Sonny.

Scenes between Mrs. Jordan and Sonny are weighty as they discuss issues still debated now. Companies use sports players' likenesses while depriving them of revenue from those earnings. Companies always make it seem like they are doing you a favor when giving you less money while they make millions or billions. I'm happy the film naturally includes that issue in conversation without forcing it. But race is ignored, which is disappointing. That's unsurprising, especially if you recall Project Greenlight. In an interesting twist, Air never shows the face of actor Damian Delano Young, who plays Michael Jordan. Rather, it's Mrs. Jordan that Sonny focuses on, and the audience sees. In fact, IRL, the main stipulation Michael Jordan made about the film was that Viola Davis play his moms.

Direction Mostly Works, and Soundtrack Is Gen X Joy

Ben Affleck's direction is widely on point. Shots strengthen a scene without pulling viewers out. Though two moments, in particular, gave me pause. One is when the film first shows Ben Affleck's Phil character. The music and direction here make it hard to know if this is a grand introduction for struggling C.E.O. Phil or a plug to show off Affleck. The other is a panned shot of Matt Damon that made me briefly feel the film had become an offshoot of Bad Boys.

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Image Credit: Prime Video

The montage of 80's moments is white-centric with next to no references to anything related to Black people, except for Run D.M.C.‘s 1986 release “My Adidas.” The soundtrack hits the mark for the most part. Musically, Air is a fun time, as most of the songs are easily recognizable. So make sure to sing along.

Air is compelling. Michael Jordan is a household name. That rarely occurs with a sports player. While this story is about sports, and corporate, it would and could have done more had it delved further into the race or given more focus to other characters like Mrs. Jordan. Viola Davis's time onscreen is too brief, given her EGOT status. Arresting stories lack follow-through when it's repeatedly the same perspective. Air is a striking film that checks all the boxes but is not groundbreaking. As entertainment goes, it delivers in a comedic, touching, but standard fashion.

Rating: 7.5/10 SPECS

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.