‘Air’ Review: Ben Affleck’s Ode to Michael Jordan Is Affectionate and Involving, Even When It Fails to Convince

  • Author: Lovia Gyarkye
  • March 19,2023

Ben Affleck’s Air operates in a respectful and deeply reverential register when it comes to its subject, his family and the sport in which he made his legacy. The film, which premiered at SXSW, chronicles the tense Nike campaign to sign Michael Jordan, then an NBA rookie, to his first sneaker deal in 1984. That contract, closed a year before the first Air Jordans were sold to the public, changed Nike’s reputation and altered the way players negotiated brand deals.

Movies about corporate legalities and closed-door meetings are rarely anyone’s idea of a good time, but there are ways to inject them with energy. Tetris, for example, which also premiered at SXSW this year, took the genre route, turning the history of a video game licensing battle into a Cold War thriller. In Air, Affleck attaches himself to the sentimental, reaching for a narrative that recasts the deal
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