Ben Affleck’s Air is an exceptionally gripping underdog story about the men at Nike who took a leap of faith and gave the world Air Jordans!

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Aishwarya Srinivasan
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Ben Affleck's Air


Ben Affleck’s Air is not about the shoes, it's about the behind the scenes of how the partnership between Nike and Michael Jordan made this a riveting story of victory!

“A shoe is just a shoe until someone steps into it”, a sentence often used in AIR, directed by Ben Affleck, can indeed be used as the best log line to describe this movie. Your shoes are the first thing someone notices about you and believe it or not it speaks volumes about your personality. We now live in a time where owning a Nike shoe is a sense of pride and privilege. People save their hard earned money for months to buy an Air Jordan and some have a whole collection of it. But Ben Affleck’s Air revolves around the time when not many people knew of the brand, when it was on the verge of shutting down its basketball shoe division and was being eaten up by its competitors, Adidas and Converse. 

The time when a group of men with passion for their company tried reaching for an ambassador above their league so they can do better, they changed the history of sports marketing as we know it. Air starts in the year 1984 and we are taken way back to when the first Air Jordan ever came into existence. Nike of course knows they don’t have what it takes to poach the big players as their ambassadors but Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), the talent scout at Nike, indeed had an eye for great talent. He wanted to break all the rules and go after the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan. The man every big sneaker company wanted as the face of their brand. So what different does Sonny and his team at Nike have to offer him is what the crux of the film is based on!

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Jason Bateman plays Rob Strasser (VP of Marketing at Nike), Chris Tucker plays Howard White ( VP, Nike Basketball Athletic Relations), the two are pivotal supporting characters in the film and bring their A game to the table in terms of their acting. Ben Affleck plays the CEO of Nike, Phil Knight and his camaraderie with Matt Damon works best just like the other movies they’ve made together. Their constant back and forth decisions and humorous banters are scene stealers. But this movie stands out more for Affleck- the filmmaker than Affleck- the actor. While the entire one hour fifty minutes of the film is about the Nike team studying Michael Jordan’s life in order to seal the deal, I like the conscious decision of steering away from not showing him in the film as the story’s main focus is about these unsung heroes. Like he is the main essence of the film without being made the center of attention. His face is shown in real life archival footage though and that works so well as an audience to feel the authenticity and connect to the story. 

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If you really think about it, this movie deals with the subject of business and marketing. It builds on capitalism. A subject that could’ve been an absolute snooze fest if that was all it was. But to add dialogues that are a total slam dunk and close up shots while Matt Damon gives inspirational speeches, it would be hard not to feel emotional and get goosebumps. The movie sells on the idea of seeing an American dream come true. We get to meet the two people behind Michael Jordan's success, his parents. Viola Davis shines as Deloris Jordan (Michael Jordan’s mother). She looks at ease and speaks with poise but she is the one calling the shots for her family. Deloris was the one who put forward the condition that Michael get a percentage of every Air Jordan sold in the world when Nike striked the deal with them. A condition that changed the future for athletes and players from all around the world. 

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There are 10 key principles that Nike follows as a company and all 10 of them are shown to us in the film, indicating what various parts of the movie mean. For instance, one of my favorite ones said “ Perfect results count- not a perfect process. Break the rules. Fight the law” which basically outlines what Sonny’s character really stood for. Even as someone who is not well versed with the world of basketball, factors like this easily keep you hooked to the story and pull you into the meeting room with all of them. The climax itself deserves another article of its own and the Bollywood buff in me couldn’t help but be reminded of the 70 minute speech by Shahrukh Khan in Chak De India after watching Matt Damon give it his all at the end. What also helps you connect better with the film is the soundtrack of this movie which consists of numerous hits from the 80s playing throughout. 

Air is a hopeful and motivational story for anyone who has a big dream. People can see through your genuineness always, human emotions are what this world is still alive on. We get to see an incredibly well made true story after a long time whose actors are its biggest selling point.

AIR will premiere exclusively on Prime Video in India on May 12 in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

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