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Air perfectly depicts the Michael Jordan/Nike relationship, whilst purposefully keeping the focus away from Jordan

The film, Air, re-tells the partnership forged between Michael Jordan and Nike. Sienna Thompson commends the film for its acting, 1980s aesthetic and focus. Read further to find out more...

By Sienna Thompson, Second Year, English

In the midst of biopics and sport related films being released, another has been added to the mix. Air (2023) tells the story of Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) and the sports company Nike pursuing rookie basketball player Michael Jordan to create a collaboration that later would revolutionise the sporting and fashion world.

Sonny, becoming restless in his position with Nike, has an epiphany to recruit one of the biggest upcoming basketball players, Michael Jordan, to become the face of a new line of Nike shoes. With competition from Adidas and Converse, he battles and coerces the CEO of Nike, Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), and colleague Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman) to chase this dream.

Courtesy of Ana Carballosa/Prime on IMDB

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s relationship with one another resulted in this contradictory humorous plot of what many expected to be a more serious film. The actors’ personal relationship of being lifelong friends formed a mix of childlike excitement and surprising banter between a boss and their employee.

Howard White (Chris Tucker) provided quick witted commentary and humour also, with Rob and Pete (Matthew Maher) as Sonny’s rock to lean on and aid in executing his plan. David Falk (Chris Messina) also played the arrogant and self-absorbed agent of Michael Jordan, who Sonny continuously mocks and clashes with.

Courtesy of Prime

The soundtrack for this film was a masterpiece from start to finish. Fitting with the ‘80s setting of the film, it only made sense to include some of the biggest hits of the decade for a playful touch to what otherwise could have been a serious and bleak storyline. Opening with Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ and including tunes from The Clash and Journey as well as many other iconic artists, there was full immersion into the era.

An element of the film that stuck out to me was the obscurity of Michael Jordan's character. The actor’s face was never shown, and he rarely spoke if it could be helped. I personally thought this was a genius approach, as then the focus would likely be taken off the plot and characters such as Sonny.

Not to mention, most are familiar with Michael’s face, and this isn’t a biopic about himself specifically. It also built up this tension and atmosphere with the character who was controlling the plot.

Courtesy of Prime

Viola Davis as Michael’s mother Deloris Jordan was perfect casting. Providing not only the voice for Michael’s demands, but also presenting a strong maternal figure who was assertive in looking out for her son. Her acting was brilliant and convincing amidst the comedic features of the film.

This film combined elements of nostalgia and the underdog genre all into one. With Affleck as the director, he chose to open the film with a film-grain montage of iconic moments from the decade, as well as including moments after the time of the collaboration had passed to show how Michael Jordan soared as an athlete, celebrity and made history.

Courtesy of Prime on IMDB

As someone who has little to no knowledge on the history of basketball and its players, as well as of Nike too, this was very easy to follow along with and enjoy. The storyline wasn’t complex at all but insightful into the business aspect as well as the world of basketball. One of the better films of this year so far personally.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Prime

Did you enjoy the '80s aesthetic of the film?