By ISAIAH RIDLEY
Ben Affleck has carved an interesting path for himself as one of the most underrated directors in the medium of cinema. Although he is a very talented actor with memorable performances, he has a special gift as a director with works ranging from “The Town” to “Argo”, “Gone Baby Gone” and “Live by Night”.
He returns to the director’s chair, directing the project entitled “Air”, exploring the creation of Nike sneakers, which creates history and two entrepreneurs in the person of Sonny Vaccaro and Phil Knight, who take the best leap of faith by putting all their hopes and aspirations in basketball to land a rookie from North Carolina in 1984. Anyone familiar with the popularity of Nike knows that these two innovative visionaries successfully managed to find Michael Jordan and how his association, likeness, competitive drive and athleticism turned the shoe into a worldwide phenomenon in sports history and popular culture.
Viewers needn’t worry about any major spoilers as it’s virtually certain that the world is familiar with Air Jordan Nike and Michael Jordan. The film stars Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Marlon Wayans and Viola Davis, who bring this story to life for the movie screen. Since the whole thing takes place in the 80s, it was refreshing to experience that level of atmosphere again. I was born on August 28, 1981 and throughout the 80’s I remember every single commercial for product placement, the music, the fashion, the latest technological advancements at the time and how the world reacted to the arrival of Michael Jordan.
One of the key dynamics associated with the film that separates it from sports biopics past or present is the intelligent dialogue. Writer Alex Convery has created meticulous, humorous and witty dialogue, executed to perfection by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman and Chris Tucker. The four main actors have an obvious, magnetic, genuine chemistry with each other that makes it impossible to ignore or not enjoy the conversations on display. Bateman has become one of my favorite actors/comedians with every performance he delivers. His work here is another highlight by showcasing his usual charm, dry humor and sarcastic wit, showing how his talent is more based on reaction and facial expression. Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro is passionate, humble, emotional and brings an energy to the role that is very charming and organic. Affleck as Phil Knight is portrayed as reserved, somewhat hesitant and traditional when he is presented with a risky deal to bring in a rookie who will change the sports landscape.
It’s important to remember that “Air” doesn’t focus on experiencing Michael Jordan’s accomplishments or competition on the big screen. What Ben Affleck and Alex Convery were able to capture was a piece of history that is still talked about, sold, and will live on for years to come with its legendary status. What I found memorable were the memories that flashed through my mind of begging and begging my dad to buy me a pair of Air Jordans. The mesmerizing ad campaign painted a picture of making kids believe that a pair of sneakers could or would give us athletic ability on the basketball court.
Another beautiful element is how the film is shot in a seemingly traditional format, resembling old-school grainy footage from late 1970s to 1980s movies and television. Watching the story unfold reminded me of how different movies and shows look on VHS compared to DVD. There’s an organic, charming quality to the old-school shooting format that I think is truly magical.
Affleck revived the memories of the 80s with this film and his directorial vision. It’s a wonderful, refreshing and interesting look back at the creation of a sneaker that literally changed the world. Air is another favorite movie of mine that I intend to buy when it comes out on DVD. Highly recommended simply because of the great and charming acting, the wonderful and intelligent dialogue and the beautiful capture of the 80’s era of music, fashion, sports and product placement. A perfect cinema experience in my opinion. My final rating is two thumbs up and another 10/10 for Air. It has to be seen.
Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy’s Cinematic Escape on YouTube.