Air - A Spoiler Review of a Film That Flies as High as Michael Jordan

To me Michael Jordan (MJ) is the best basketball player ever, other players like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are in the conversation, but MJ is the GOAT. Air snuck up on me as I did not even know anything about it until the first trailer came out only a few months ago. A film starring Matt Damon, directed by Ben Affleck and about Michael Jordan sounds like a fantasy for me. Ben Affleck has not directed a film since Live by Night in 2017, and that film kind of sucked. Affleck was busy being Batman, and taking smaller roles in a bunch of films, but this is his best work in years. The Town is where I think Affleck was at his best, but he got the awards for Argo (which was good too). I do not think Air is on par with The Town, but it is easily in his top three films in which he has directed. The combination of the subject matter (Nike and Michael Jordan) with a film starring Viola Davis, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Jason Bateman made for a very entertaining film. While I might not believe everything happened the way it did in real life, I don't really care because I enjoyed the film regardless of whether it all happened. 

The plot of the film does not sound very exciting, but the film works because you become mesmerized by the performances. Matt Damon stars as Sonny Vaccaro who is the basketball scout for Nike. Ben Affleck is a supporting character, but he plays Phil Knight the co-founder of Nike. Jason Bateman plays the Rob Strasser the VP of Marketing who Sonny reports to. Viola Davis plays Deloris Jordan, Michael Jordan's mother who represents Michael in this situation. Chris Tucker plays Howard White who works with Sonny but is also close friends with Sonny. Chris Messina plays David Falk, who is Michael Jordan's agent. The dynamic between all of the cast is so well played, all these people get a long, but there are tense moments where they all do not get along. Every single actor stood out in this film, and even a small role played by Marlon Wayans as George Raveling was made important to the story. Sonny Vaccaro is the linchpin to the film as he is the character who interacts with everyone and the character who we are cheering for. Sonny's life is basketball, and the audience's knowledge of Michael Jordan's greatness allow us to know that Sonny is right in his belief that Nike should do whatever it can to sign Michael Jordan. For a film about Michael Jordan his absence does not matter to the story, though the use of game clips helps underscore why Sonny believed what he did.


The film opens with Sonny Vaccaro watching a high school basketball game, and when he leaves, he makes sure to talk to a few of the players. Sonny shows up to work at the Nike head office in Beaverton, Oregon. Nike attends a marketing meeting led by Rob Strasser where the assembled team needs to decide on which three NBA draft picks they want to try and sign to Nike endorsement deals. The meeting ends prematurely when Sonny jumps down someone's throat for the logic used to pick a player. The budget is rigid, and the basketball side of Nike is in shambles with Adidas and Converse having a bigger market share. While at home watching tapes of the players in the draft Sonny becomes attached to Michael Jordan who has been linked to Adidas since he is a fan of their gear. Rob believes that not only is Michael Jordan too expensive (he would use up entire budget), but it would be a waste of time to pursue him. Sonny takes his plan to Phil Knight, but Knight now reports to a board of directors and the shareholders, so he is reluctant to give his approval. 

Sonny reaches out to Michael Jordan's agent David Falk who refuses to give Sonny a meeting unless he gets an official offer. Sonny defies everyone and decides to visit the Jordan household to talk to Michael's mother Deloris who is the person he needs to convince. Sonny tells Deloris that he believes that Michael is special, and that they might be the only ones who know it. Sonny explains what each meeting with Converse and Adidas will be like, and why Nike will be different. Deloris sees Sonny out, but she refuses to give Sonny any confirmation that she liked what he said. Sonny gets a call from Falk who verbally assaults Sonny for going to see the family, but Falk says that the family will go to Nike's office the following Monday for a meeting with them. Sonny then presents the opportunity to Phil who does not back Sonny, but he also does not stop him. Phil will think things over before giving his approval. Sonny, Rob and the shoe designer Pete spend the weekend at the office designing the shoe and the marketing pitch. Phil comes to the office to check in on them, and he supports the plan giving Sonny the go ahead.

The Jordans head to Converse and Adidas for the meetings and both go how Sonny predicted. At Nike things get off to a slow start, but Sonny breaks from the presentation to give an impassioned speech about how special he believes Michael is and that Nike will base their basketball brand on him. The Jordans leave the office without confirming anything leaving Sonny to wait for a call from them. Delores calls Sonny saying Michael with sign with Nike, but they also want a percentage of the profits from the sale of the merchandise. Sonny agrees, but he does not believe the deal will be approved by Phil because the industry has never before granted an athlete a percentage of the sales. Phil surprises Sonny by agreeing to the condition saying that it is time to take a risk again. The film ends with the details of just how successful that partnership was for both Nike and Michael Jordan.


I took my father to see Air, and he loved it because the film was well made, but also very entertaining. While I think we all knew how the story would end, you could not help but get sucked into the movie. The characters were all great, and the more time we got with them the more depth was given. Air relied heavily on movie stars being movie stars, and it worked out that Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Viola Davis and Matt Damon delivered. The supporting cast of Chris Messina, Chris Tucker and Matthew Maher were all fantastic too. The movie succeeded because of the performances given by all of the actors, the surprise for me was Matthew Maher who is a character actor that has been in a lot of stuff in minor roles. Maher gave a great performance in a small role, but he was very memorable for the little screen time he had. The story is not overly interesting, but the execution of the story was amazing. Ben Affleck continues to impress as a director, it is a shame that his Batman film that he was going to direct and star in is never going to be made as I would have loved to see what he would do. The whole Batman saga cost us seven years of Affleck not directing and now it feels like a waste. Air is Ben Affleck announcing that he is back as a director, and it is behind only The Town and Argo. 

I am going to give Air a 9/10, and if the story was a little bigger or more unpredictable, I think it would have been a 10. Now that Air is streaming on Amazon Prime, I highly encourage you to watch it, it is the kind of film that will appeal to just about everyone. I think Air might be the most awards worthy film I have seen in 2023, but I still enjoyed John Wick: Chapter Four and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 more. I think Air is a more accessible film than the other two I liked more, and I think Air is hard film to have issue with. While I don't think it will garner much awards attention for directing, it should definitely get some attention for the script and the acting performances. Acting has always been a tough profession to get awards in because the films that are popular often don't get the recognition that a small independent drama would. There is nothing wrong with independent dramas, but they are not often described as entertaining. Air is comedy film filled with great performances and it is now on Amazon Prime so please watch it and enjoy. 

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