How does a company like Nike go from selling just 17% of its shoes in a sector, basketball, and in its country, the United States, third on the list after Converse and Adidas and a long way behind them, to becoming the sports brand dominant not only on the courts of basketball but also on the street and, by extension, in other sports? The short and easy answer, and surely correct, is this: Michael Jordan. The complex answer, and even more attractive and exciting, could be this other one: because of the daring and transgression, because of the ambition and daring of a series of people related to ideas, the marketing, advertising, art, trade, money and wisdom around sports and the knowledge of brilliant and special people, their attitudes and their interior, all of them with Jordan as a unifying figure who, in the shadows, helped them become better in each of their departments. A fascinating story that is responsible for telling the wonderful American film Air, directed by Ben Affleck, co-written by Matt Damon and Affleck himself, and starring both.
A Jordan, apart from the archive images of his university games, only a handful of monosyllables can be heard and in the image he is little more than a shadow: the actor who plays him (to use a verb that does not fit him in any way). it only goes backwards or out of field. The protagonists are others, commanded by the ideologue of the decision to sign the player to be the new emblem of the brand for an extraordinary amount of money. A chubby, charismatic, gambler, middle-aged basketball savant played by the magnificent actor Damon. A scout with no more talent than knowing where the true nature of geniuses yet to be polished resides, as was the recent signing of the Chicago Bulls. Chosen, and this is one of the keys, only in the third place of the draft from the year 1984, behind Hakeem Olajuwon, for all, the undisputed star later confirmed, although without the stratospheric level of Jordan, and Sam Bowie, who injuries and bad decisions sank in the discretion of an early retirement from basketball with just 10 points on average per game. But that is precisely the magic of the sport: the unpredictability.
Musically marked by a handful of songs of the time, above all by the Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen, as a symbol of one of those American fables about ambition, a job well done and confidence in oneself, or of everyone in themselves, Air, Titled like this in honor of the name of those mythical sneakers associated with the power of subversion, it has a very special elegiac tone, almost closer to comedy than drama. Along the lines of another great popular movie about sport and money as Jerry Maguireand perhaps ambitioning the quality and the intricacies of another story alien in the image to the fields and the ball, to the races and the points, and more focused on the offices, on the decisions and, above all, on the intelligence to know scrutinize the inscrutable, where the sporting genius resides: money ballone of the best works in the history of sports cinema, a prodigious height that does not reach Air.
The ambitions of a mother and a son, which we so often see in families of sports diamonds yet to be polished and that will slip away along the way, dominate the second part of the film. Also your confidence. And everyone’s risk. It is the character that forged the so-called American dream, so linked to the Reagan era to which the event belongs. And also from its dark side: the nightmare that haunts the individual and the country so many times, and that this time did not come.
To Affleck’s work, as funny as in Argo, It may lack a point of depth to become the great film that it could have been with a little more ambition and style, but the director’s power as an excellent storyteller, already demonstrated in Bye, baby, bye and The Town, means that nothing is missing to be a very interesting document about the histories of sport, finance, the marketing and advertising, and entertainment to enjoy, laugh and remember.
Address: Ben Affleck.
Performers: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman.
Gender: comedy. USA, 2023.
Duration: 112 minutes.
Premiere: April 5.
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