air ben affleck

Air review | Your dad’s new favourite film

Ben Affleck returns to directing with Air, a story of how Nike established a collaboration with Michael Jordan. Read our review. 


Ben Affleck returns to directing with Air, a story of how Nike established a collaboration with Michael Jordan, who was still a complete rookie. Read our review. 

What exactly is a “dad movie”? It’s usually a film based on a true story, has something to do with war, sports and ultimately concludes as tale of being good and decent. Ron Howard has almost exclusively made a career out of Dad Movies. This isn’t a criticism, just a simple observation. And, to all the dads out there reading this, Ben Affleck’s Air is the quintessential Dad Movie of 2023. 

Air tells the true story of how Nike came to collaborate with Michael Jordan on some shoes you might have heard of. Air Jordans, to be specific, which have proved rather popular. Similarly to Tetris, Air tells a true story of the people behind the iconic 1980s product

Matt Damon, Affleck’s long-time collaborator, plays Sonny, a marketing executive whose job is to find promising young basketball players to wear Nike shoes. Problem? No one significant enough wants to wear Nike because Adidas and Converse are dominating the market. 

air matt damon

Credit: Warner Bros

Although the word on the street is that he’s going to Adidas, Sonny wants to bet everything on Michael Jordan, a talented rookie player. Instead of paying for three or four players, Sonny wants to blow the entire budget on Jordan and to create a shoe around him. The CEO of Nike, Phil Knight (Affleck) tells Sonny he’d be risking his whole career with a move like that. 

We all know how the story ends. We’ve all either owned or at least been tempted to buy a pair of Air Jordans, which have been on the market since the 1980s. While the story itself is rather unbelievable, knowing the outcome does take away some of the suspense. 

The film also portrays Nike as a small, struggling company. They held only 17% of the market share of basketball shoes whereas Adidas and Converse had much more impressive numbers; but Nike, by no means, was struggling. Affleck and writer Alex Convery frame this as a rags to riches story which feels a little tone-deaf. 

However, if you can forgive Air for those fumbles, the film is a hoot. It’s the kind of film you end up watching over and over again, because it’s entertaining, relaxing almost. 

air viola davis

Credit: Warner Bros

The biggest strength of the film is the smart casting. Damon is the perfect lead with heaps of charisma and precise, skilful comic timing. Affleck turns in a wonderfully ego-free performance that proves he’s capable of taking the piss out of himself, and Jason Bateman is always a welcome addition to any cast. 

Viola Davis is perhaps a tad underused as Jordan’s mother, but even then, she does magical things with her limited screen time. While Damian Delano Young is credited as playing Jordan, Affleck smartly never shows his face. He also has no lines in the film, because ultimately this isn’t about Jordan. 

During the climactic scene, where Sonny makes one last attempt to appeal to Jordan and his family, Affleck cuts to real-life footage of Jordan and his later life as well as featuring several headlines from his career. This is by far his smartest filmmaking choice; it perfectly uses our knowledge of Jordan’s life but never really shows anywhere else. 

Ultimately, Air is the perfect three-star film. It’s inoffensive, fun to watch, but also a little forgettable. It’ll definitely be your dad’s favourite film of 2023, but it probably won’t climb up on your best of the year list. 

Air is in cinemas 5 April.  

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