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  • Writer's pictureDenise Breen

Air - it may just want to make you fly too.

3.5 out of 5

"ARGO f*** yourself!" is arguably one of the most memorable lines of any film of the last twenty years. If you've not seen ARGO, go seek it out and see how masterful a director Ben Affleck is. It is on the strength of his direction of that 2012 film that I knew I had to see Air.

The story revolves around three people believe who that Michael Jordan could become better than great. Michael Jordan himself, his Mom and Sonny Vaccaro, an executive for Nike, a company best known in 1984 for its running shoes.

In the world of basketball, Nike was barely on the map. Converse was the big dog. All the NBA’s best—from Magic Johnson to Larry Bird to Julius “Dr. J” Erving himself—wore them. Adidas was the trendsetting second fiddle, quickly becoming a brand darling in the hip-hop world. When he played college hoops at North Carolina, Jordan wore Converse on the court and loved his Adidas off it.

We all know how the story ends and how the Michael Jordan/Nike partnership is considered one of the most revolutionary, and lucrative, relationships in sports history. Both the player and the shoe company have profited enormously together, and both continue to make crates full of money from the deal—even though Jordan retired 20 years ago.

The real charm in Air—besides, of course, its boardroom full of top-notch actors and 1980s soundtrack—is rewinding the clock, to when Michael Jordan was an unproven NBA rookie and Nike was just a scrappy shoemaker. In fact, the only one that Jordan refused to even consider. It’s a fascinating story. And even if we’re just told one exaggerated side of it (the Internet will disgorge a host of other sides if you ask), there’s no question that the Oscar-winning Ben Affleck knows how to direct a powerful, engaging film. That’s only fitting, I suppose, given the powerful, engaging athlete at its center.

But it’s fitting in another way, too.

Give Jordan his role as perhaps the greatest basketball player—and one of the greatest athletes—of all time, we know that the same competitive fire that drove Jordan to greatness could make him, sometimes, kind of a jerk. His ledger is filled not just with highlight-reel shots, but tawdry headlines. Sonny tells us that Americans love to build up our heroes and tear them down, but let’s be honest: Our heroes are often complicit in their own deconstruction.

Air, too, can soar—surprisingly high, considering its most riveting scenes take place in Nike’s boardrooms and cubicles. But when it falls, it hits hard. The screenplay by Alex Convery misses a few beats however, it's a kick watching Affleck and Damon, Oscar-winning besties for writing "Good Will Hunting," go at each other on screen. Though they've appeared together in nine movies, "Air" marks the first time that Affleck has directed his boyhood chum from Massachusetts. And it speaks volumes about their relationship that Damon gives one of his best ever performances.

With a couple of computer game films in cinema at the moment, this is easily the best thing out there. Go see it before it moves to Amazon Prime Video

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