Air: Courting a Legend is the epitome of the power of a good story.
It is hard to imagine, but there was once a time when Nike was not the biggest name in sports and athletic apparel. Even more difficult to believe, at one point they were not synonymous with Basketball, but the ugly secondhand brand that people were embarrassed to wear on the court. However, that all changed when Nike was able to sign, Michael Jordan. When the greatest basketball player of all time joined the NBA, he did so with his own line of shoes, and simultaneously changed the game and the way the players get paid and represented. Air: Courting a Legend is the story of that deal and the people that made it all possible.
Making Greatness Out of Thin Air
Easily the most impressive part about Air is that the audience is just watching a marketing team do their job for a week. When it all comes down to it, we watched a marketing team come up with their idea and pitch it. Yes, it is historically one of the biggest and most influential deals ever made that changed the sport, the industry, and the culture. But, objectively it is a film about a marketing team doing their job. Yet, Ben Affleck and his team crafted a film with absolute perfection! There is no bad story, just a story told poorly, and this is just a story told by some of the best storytellers there are, and it is magnificent!
A Shoe is Just a Shoe, Until His Airness Stepped Into Them
Air is an absolute testament to incredible filmmaking. There is little to no spectacle in this movie. It is purposely normal. Yet, it feels grand. While it is the story of the greatest deal ever made that involves one of the greatest athletes ever, the grandeur is felt far before that. The performances, the shots, and the editing keeps the energy freely shifting from potential and kinetic throughout the film. What is most impressive, it is usually conveyed in dialogue. The majority of the film is people just talking, but the combination of the right words, immaculate performances, and master cinematography make words as mighty as the sword.
While the craftsmanship of the film is hard to quantify and explain, the performances are obviously incredible. Air is a prime example of there being no small roles. Each and every part, regardless of how little or how much screen time they have, is tremendously impactful. Matt Damon delivers a wonderfully subtle performance as Sonny Vaccaro. Damon perfectly captures the gut feeling of betting everything on belief or being the greater. There is no logic or reason, but there is purpose. And luckily for Vaccaro, Deloris Jordan’s and his purpose aligned. Because like Vaccaro and Jordan, Damon’s purpose would not have overcome Viola Davis’s.
Viola Davis is a tour de force. She radiates a mother’s love and protection for her child. Michael Jordan told Ben Affleck to get Viola Davis to play his mom, and to the benefit of all involved and all who will watch this film, she said yes! Davis does not have to command presence or attention, but she is willfully given all of it. What was surprising, was how it was apparent even over the phone. The performance, in combination with the filmmaking and Damon on the other end of the line, really captured Davis’s powerful presence and the real-life revere and respect everyone had for Mrs. Jordan.
Outside of Davis and Damon, there is everyone else in the cast. Christ Tucker as Howard White delivers numerous hilarious and poignant moments. Jason Bateman as Rob Strasser grounds the performers and the story. Mathew Maher as Peter Moore delivers the quiet passion of everyone involved. Chris Messina as David Falk has one of the best phone conversations in cinema. Marlon Wayans might have the best 5-minute performance ever. The entire Air team is able to add to their highlight reel.
Like Walking on Air
Ben Affleck assembled an all-star team and delivered a championship performance in every conceivable manner with Air: Courting a Legend. Without spectacle, and without Jordan and the Air Jordan for the majority of the film, the cast, crew, and creatives, tell one of the most compelling stories of American culture in a thoroughly engaging, entertaining, and uplifting way. Air is the quintessence of masterful filmmaking and storytelling. Air: Courting a Legend is the epitome of the power of a good story.
For being an embodiment of a master of the fundamentals, I give Air: Courting a Legend an 8/10.
Air: Courting a Legend releases exclusively in theaters on April 5, 2023, from Amazon Studios before premieres globally in over 240 countries and territories worldwide on Prime Video.
ABOUT AIR: COURTING A LEGEND
Release Date: April 5, 2023, exclusively in theaters before premiering on Prime Video.
Directed By: Ben Affleck
Written By: Alex Convery
Produced By: David Ellison, Jesse Sisgold, Jon Weinbach, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Madison Ainley, Jeff Robinov, Peter Guber, and Jason Michael Berman
Production Companies: Skydance Sports; Mandalay Pictures; Artists Equity
Distributed By: Amazon Studios, Warner Bros. Pictures
Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Matthew Maher, Marlon Wayans, Jay Mohr, Julius Tennon, with Chris Tucker and Viola Davis
Synopsis: From award-winning director Ben Affleck, AIR reveals the unbelievable game-changing partnership between a then-rookie Michael Jordan and Nike’s fledgling basketball division which revolutionized the world of sports and contemporary culture with the Air Jordan brand. This moving story follows the career-defining gamble of an unconventional team with everything on the line, the uncompromising vision of a mother who knows the worth of her son’s immense talent, and the basketball phenom who would become the greatest of all time.
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