Air (Blu-ray)

Follows the history of sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro, and how he led Nike in its pursuit of the greatest athlete in the history of basketball, Michael Jordan.

September 11, 2023 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Fast fact: Air was released on 4/5/2023. Michael Jordan’s number while playing for the Washington Wizards: 45. His number with the Bulls: 23. Coincidence?

I’ve never been too much into basketball, but if you don’t know who Michael Jordan is then I can assume you’ve been living in a cave for the last few decades – with your fingers in your ears. That’s how great Jordan was (and in many ways, still is) – he transcended the sport. And with the “Air Jordan” line of shoes and clothing, it built a brand and turned Nike (and Jordan) into a household name. Oddly, as of this writing, I’ve never owned a pair of Air Jordan’s though I think if I were to take the plunge, it’d be the golf versions. Yes, that’s how successful this venture was, we’re making golf shoes that were originally made for a basketball player. Air isn’t a definitive documentary on how this came to be, like Moneyball or The Social Network, it’s more of an abridged version of the highlights – but it’s enough where we get the gist of what happened and how everything came to be.

Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) is on the lookout for the “next big thing.” He’s Nike’s basketball scout and is responsible for finding talent that he can sign for the company. The problem is that anyone worth their salt ends up signing with the two bigger companies: Adidas or Converse. The 1984 NBA draft class is widely considered one of the best with names like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Akeem Olajuwon. This doesn’t sit too well with Sonny’s boss, VP of Marketing Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), who believes that they’ve got no shot at signing Michael Jordan. Vaccaro puts all of his eggs in one basket, much to the chagrin of Nike’s CEO Phil Knight (Ben Affleck). Sonny has to convince Jordan’s agent, David Falk (Chris Messina) to aid with his efforts and meet with Jordan’s parents: Deloris (Viola Davis) and James (Julius Tennon). If it works and Jordan delivers, it’ll make Nike a true contender. If not, it could ruin the company’s basketball division.

Of course we don’t have to ask ourselves the question “did it work?” We all know it did. Nike was hoping and praying that they’d make enough to recoup their cost. Instead the Air Jordan shoes generated over $125 million in sales in the first year alone. I read a statistic that said Air Jordan’s now generate $3 million in sales every five hours. Wow. As I mentioned above, Air isn’t a play by play documentary. Liberties are taken with the story. That’s how it works – it’s Hollywood. But it does give us a good sampling of what happened and, most importantly, how. It’s hard to believe that we used to live in a world where everyone wore Adidas and Converse with Nike being a distant third, but…we did. Jordan was a generational talent and someone like him we’ll likely never see again. But his decision to sign with Nike is considered one of the best business decisions ever.

Video: How’s it look?

Though the movie is “new”, there are some “vintage” clips sprinkled throughout. The 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer is just as what we’ve come to expect for a new movie to Blu-ray. Colors pop, the red in the shoes has never looked so good. Detail is excellent as well, was I the only one mesmerized by Ben Affleck’s curls? Probably. From the track suits, to the cars, to the little nuances in the background – this makes for a great viewing and certainly indicative of a new to the format film.

Audio: How’s it sound?

This might not seem the type of film that’s got Dolby Atmos written all over it, but don’t kid yourself – it’s got a few moments that really impressed me. By and large, the film is dialogue-driven with Damon’s Sonny Vacarro leading the way. But there are a few scenes that really engage the surrounds, the height speakers and make for a pretty robust experience. I do have to commend Warner for including this on the disc, but in all honesty it could have taken the lesser route and it’d have sounded fine. We’ll file this in the “nice to have” category, though not necessary.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Here’s hoping that you like the movie as there are no extras. It’s like buying a pair of Jordan’s with no laces.

The Bottom Line

I’m always fascinated about things that I know and remember in my life and seeing how they “took shape” on the screen makes my jaw drop. Or maybe I’m easily entertained. Whatever the reason, Air is certainly entertaining and gives us a good look at one of the most important and influential products of the lat few decades – The Air Jordan.

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