- Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Viola Davis
- Directed by: Ben Affleck
- Rated: R
- Running time: 1 hr 53 mins
- Amazon Studios
- (Five stars out of Five)
It’s been 26 years since a couple of kids named Ben Affleck and Matt Damon took Hollywood by storm when they won an Oscar for their original screenplay “Good Will Hunting.” In the time since winning, the two have battled through career ups and downs and today are among the most respected people in Hollywood. Especially Affleck, who went from being a punchline to becoming one of the best directors in the business. His non-nomination for directing the Oscar winning Best Picture, “Argo,” is a true mystery that I don’t even think Scooby Doo and his pals could solve.
Not including a brief appearance on the “set” of “Good Will Hunting 2’ in Kevin Smith’s “Jay and Silent Bob Save Hollywood,” the two have no appeared on screen together since GWH. That all changes now with the release of “Air.”
It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when Nike was almost an afterthought when it came to sneakers. Back in my youth the popular brands were Adidas and Puma. Sure, Nike was big with runners but, where I once as a kid asked my parents to buy me a pair of Lou Brock-model Keds, I cannot remember ever asking them for a pair of Nikes. Enter Sonny Vacarro (Damon), hired by the Beaverton, Oregon company to help increase the brand.l The 1984 draft has just been held and he is charged with finding three players to hopefully sign sponsorship contracts and get the word out. But Vacarro, going against everything he has been told, decides to put all of Nike’s eggs in the baseke of a certain young man from the University of North Carolina, one Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
Packed with great performances and backed by a killer soundtrack of 1984 tunes, “Air” asumes the audience knows that Jordan and Nike now go hand in handl, but are curious to know how they got together.
Damon is his usual solid self, giving Vacarro an empathy that you might not normally have for someone in his position. It is his persistance, as well as his genuine belief that Jordan is truly a once-in-a-lifetime talent, that keeps the film moving. Damon is joined by director Affleck, who plays Nike founder Phil Knight as a man who must balance his employee’s beliefs with the wishes of his stockholders. Also contributing: Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker and Chris Messina, who plays Jordan’s agent, David Falk. Messina’s scenes with Damon are comic gold, somehow making characters who should be unlikable anything but. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the award-worthy performance by Viola Davis, who plays Jordan’s mother, Deloris. Her quiet strength, and true belief in her son’s ability, give the film a great compass.
The script is tight and Affleck has given the film a quick, but even, pace. I’d put “Air” on the same shelf as “Argo” in both style and execution.
I know it’s only April, but I am not afraid to state for the record that “Air” is – nd will be – one of the best films of the year.