Affleck has made several great films in his career, from the pulse-pounding heist film “The Town” to his Best Picture winner “Argo.” However, what is most interesting about “Air” is that it is, on the surface, just a movie where a bunch of guys are talking on the phone or talking in an office building trying to make a big deal. There isn’t much action in the cinematic sense, nor is there anything as dramatic as a kidnapping like we had in “Gone Baby Gone.” Instead, what we’re left with is a sports story that isn’t really about the sport in question (in this case, basketball) and is, instead, about the people behind the scenes of one very specific element of the game.
That being the case, Affleck doesn’t have the benefit of infusing the film with actual on-the-court drama to spice things up. It’s an action-driven, human piece of film that lives or dies by the words on the page and the people who say those words. Fortunately, Alex Convery’s script is compelling and the ensemble cast is stacked in favor of this film, almost laughably so. Damon is at his quiet, charming best here, while Viola Davis, perhaps the best actor walking the planet, lends her talents to a very important supporting role as Deloris Jordan, Michael Jordan’s Mom.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as we also get great performances from the likes of Jason Bateman, Chris Messina and, refreshingly enough, Chris Tucker. Not to mention that Affleck himself is a lot of fun as Nike founder Phil Knight. Anyway, an A-list cast making a movie ostensibly about a shoe deal play like gangbusters. It’s a real crowd-pleaser without much of anything flashy to disguise the cracks in the pavement.