Air movie review: Great performances from a star-studded cast

Air key art
Air key art /

Air is a film with a story that is sure to put a spring in your step! It’s out now exclusively in theaters nationwide.

The movie was written by Alex Convery and directed by Ben Affleck who also portrays Nike CEO Phil Knight. It brings an incredible ensemble cast to the screen which includes Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, and Viola Davis. Read on to find out my thoughts on the sports drama.

In the beginning of the film, viewers are brought back to the 1980s in a montage with a more-than-stellar score underneath (the film continues this trend throughout its entirety). The ’80s offered a time when televised sporting events were not just meant to be watched but were made to be enjoyed.

Air essentially looks at the seemingly unglamorous side of the business during the time and if you’re looking to compare the real Michael Jordan to the actor who played him, you won’t have much luck. The physical role of Michael Jordan is actually quite miniscule throughout the movie, we only see his figure, and not the player’s face, through carefully concealed shots. What might seem like an odd choice actually adds to the mystique that is Michael Jordan and helps not to put the audience off since archival footage of the phenom is shown throughout the film.

Air review: The cast delivers compelling peformances

I would be remiss if I didn’t call out stand-out performances, but in Air, all of the main cast stands out. Julius Tennon, who oh-so delicately portrays Jordan’s father, James R. Jordan Sr., provided the heart that viewers will resonate with while Viola Davis portrays Deloris with a more hardened approach to the mother of the famed basketball player. Through their differences, you can see the subtleties of their body language and attitude towards the people who are trying to push a deal on them and they both just want what’s best for their son.

Jason Bateman plays Rob Strasser, the no-nonsense and solidly sarcastic VP of Marketing at Nike. The actor slips into this role with ease and we see those short but sweet nods to Strasser’s poignant side near the end of the film when all the puzzle pieces fit nicely together. Same with Marlon Wayans, who has the job of portraying George Raveling, the then-Olympic Team assistant coach. Wayans and Matt Damon had to engage in a rapport that the real life sports figures had and did so effortlessly.

One thing I will note is that I think an under-appreciated performance comes from Chris Messina as David Falk, the smart-mouthed agent that’s tasked with bringing in these opportunities to Jordan. There’s an over-the-phone dispute that’s arguably the most iconic scene in the film. Another great performance comes from Matthew Maher who portrays Peter Moore, the designer who is credited for creating the Air Jordan logo that we all love and appreciate. His quirkiness comes in handy when the meeting we’ve all been waiting for eventually happens.

Damon and Ben Affleck have undeniable on-screen chemistry. We’ve seen it time and time again, but in Air, the actors prove that they can still showcase their camaraderie. While historically speaking, the two appear to remain unaligned throughout the film, a tenderness is revealed between them, with the many mentions of the “old Nike days”. This is shown throughout the second act and is apparent all the way until the end.

In addition to Affleck’s directing, the excellent cinematography steals the show. There isn’t a moment in the film where the shots seem lazy and they only aid in providing that feeling of  intimacy you get when you know you’re on the heels of something good.

Most times, those unrelenting moments in deal making are hard to replicate on-screen in a dramatized film but Air did it so wonderfully. These brand deals are being made at lighting fast speed but the story never loses momentum and we all finally get to see a look into how athletes’ legacies are forged in a dog eat dog world.

This will definitely be a contender for best movie of the year, so go and see it!

Next. Ben Affleck: 10 greatest movies of all time (so far). dark

Air is in theaters nationwide now.