There are a handful of directors whose cachet instantly makes any project interesting. Arguably, Ben Affleck is one of those filmmakers. With Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and best picture winner Argo under his belt, Affleck stumbled with the underwhelming Live By Night and got preoccupied in the comic book movie universe.
Affleck is back in the director’s seat with Air, the true story of the Nike executives who made business history in 1984 by pursuing a historic deal with up-and-coming basketball star Michael Jordan.
The director has proven himself adept at creating dynamite period pieces. Air is yet another one under his belt. Through visuals and music, the film satisfyingly oozes the 80s. The only complaint is the screenplay, which, while competent, never entirely shifts into gear in the way it feels like it wants to. There seem to be emotional moments left on the table here, through no fault of the actors, whose performances are the film’s lifeblood.
Air stars Matt Damon and features strong supporting performances from an all-star cast, including Jason Bateman, Viola Davis, Chris Tucker, and the director, Ben Affleck. All of the above bring terrific performances to the screen. The characters’ likability drives the film, which is an unlikely topic for the big screen.
Superficially, Air is a story about a basketball shoe licensing deal with the greatest player of all time. However, at its core, the film is an underdog tale about a group of people who are forced to trust their collective gut and put everything on the line to change their game. In that, it succeeds. Air is well crafted, with solid performances from the cast. The screenplay doesn’t push the film from good to great, but the likability of the characters takes Air high enough to recommend a watch.