Air is a 2023 Drama written by Alex Convery and directed by Ben Affleck. It is set in the 1980s as Sonny Vaccaro and Nike attempt to pursue Michael Jordan for a shoe deal to change sports culture forever. Now I love basketball, but when I saw the trailer for this film it didn’t seem that interesting. Nevertheless, reviews started popping up saying this film was incredible. So as usual, I trekked out to the cinemas on Easter with a bag of snacks and a drink in my hand to see Air two days after its release.
Air has a solid script that kept me entertained throughout the entire film. But truthfully, I think it kind of stops there. The film is fun and light but just doesn’t have the same impact as other sport films like Moneyball. It wants to have these deeper themes of systemic change and the process but never feels truly there. I think it comes down to the goal of its core characters. Unlike Billy Beane’s drive to change baseball in Moneyball, Air’s core characters simply want to make more sales for their company. Essentially, Air just doesn’t have the same stakes and weight as other sport dramas.
What carries this film is the cast. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Tucker and Jason Bateman are extremely entertaining to watch on screen. Their banter, wit and charisma is what makes this film fly by. But as I said before, these characters simply lack any real development. I am sure it was a purposeful decision to not explore these men in too much detail but I really believe it negatively impacts this film. Even our main character – Sonny Vaccaro – feels very two dimensional and bland. Except for a small story by Jason Bateman, none of them have any moments that feel heartfelt and earnest.
An artistic choice of Ben Affleck was to not have Michael Jordan’s face or voice in Air at all. Now I get what they were going for when you have Voila Davis in the film. She is an incredible actor who gives a tough and steely performance but this decision felt very weird. Every time Michael was in a scene it completely took me out of the moment as they awkwardly cut around his face. I get the story isn’t about him, but I think a different choice would have been much more natural.
Should you see Air?
Air is an enjoyable film that will keep you entertained from start to finish. It has great performances by some big names that carry the film over the line. However, it is lacking that extra layer of meaning that a truly exceptional sport film requires. I would see this film in cinemas if you are looking for something fun and simple to watch.