Ben Affleck hadn't directed a film for seven years prior to Air, which feels like a crime against cinema considering just how good most of his films have been. What he brings us here in the form of Air is a feel-good film focusing on the launch of a shoe that launched an icon, or an icon that launched a shoe (whichever way you want to look at it).

Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), a shoe salesman at Nike, works to sign rookie Michael Jordan (Damian Delano Young) to a deal to wear their shoes.
In what feels like a task that wouldn't feel out of place being set by Lord Sugar to a bunch of yuppie business wannabes on The Apprentice, the team at Nike had to design a shoe fit for a legend of basketball in the making. Being a story most people will know the outcome of, considering how big Air Jordans are today, means it feels as if the film lacks stakes of any kind to make it compelling viewing yet the film doesn't suffer as a result because of the writing and performances.

Alex Convery's writing does major work in making the journey to an already known destination feel fresh and entertaining. There's plenty of 80s references and a killer soundtrack thrown in for good measure, playful in their nature as the team at Nike put their reputations on the line for the deal of a lifetime. The playfulness of it all can be felt from behind the camera too as Ben Affleck hilariously sets a montage of Damon's Sonny Vaccaro waiting on a phone call from the Jordan family to Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time, coming across as more of a romantic comedy than a sports biopic. Who said sport wasn't romantic?
As much as Air is an ensemble piece, there is no denying this feels like Matt Damon's film. There's always been a likability factor to Damon and he solidifies that further with a funny and driven performance as Sonny Vaccaro, a man who just wouldn't lie down and take no for an answer. Ben Affleck has fun playing Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike, trying to keep a leash on Vaccaro, and it's great to see the pair sharing scenes together again. Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker and Chris Messina play their part in making this a foul-mouthed tale of pressure, Messina in particular.

Viola Davis expectedly delivers a memorable performance as Deloris Jordan, maternal instincts coming to the fore as she tries to secure the best future for her son. Davis is one of those actresses you just know will make an impact, no matter the size of the role, and she brings a necessary level of calmness to proceedings here.

Air is such a feel-good film that proves to be the perfect hangout movie to put a smile on your face. Does it reinvent the wheel? God no. But what it does do is offer a great slice of entertainment and a forgiving runtime in what feels like an age of cinema where films tend to overstay their welcome.



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