Review by Adam Donato
Ben Affleck has been one of the more high profile filmmakers of the 21st century. While Gone Baby Gone and The Town were both well received, Argo netted Affleck the Best Picture Oscar. Since then, Affleck has only directed Live By Night, a critical and commercial failure. One can assume a great deal of Affleck’s focus was on the DCEU and his solo Batman movie that was destined not to be. Air seems like a return to form, as the hype compares it to movies like Ford V Ferrari and Moneyball. Amazon is the distributor for this blockbuster as positive test screenings were overwhelming. Competing head to head with The Super Mario Bros Movie and the wake of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and John Wick: Chapter 4 seems like quite the uphill battle. Sure, whatever box office is gravy to Amazon, but hopefully this theatrical release will provide some much deserving exposure. Does Affleck have the magic to make this sports movie break through with audiences?
To get the negative out of the way, while Air does compare with movies like Ford V. Ferrari and Moneyball, it’s hard to have high awards aspirations for this flick. Christian Bale and Brad Pitt provide much more gripping performances than anything Damon and Affleck provide. That's not to mention those movies are much more dynamic visually and have more depth in what they’re trying to say. Air doesn’t have much to say, keeping things simple with this humorous and inspiring true story. A disadvantage Air has is that it’s easy to be cynical and see this as a two hour Nike commercial. Movie stars aren’t enough to sell movies anymore. You need some brand recognition to guarantee butts in seats. While Air may be a standard biopic type movie, it accomplishes the goals it sets out for and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Matt Damon does a fantastic job at playing Matt Damon. Ben Affleck channels a supporting performance not unlike his role in The Last Duel, another recent collaboration with Damon. It’s certainly more on the comedic side, but it’s perfect as this movie is just trying to have a good time. Affleck said in an interview how this was such a fun movie to make, and it shows. Jason Bateman delivers in his supporting role. The real standouts here are Viola Davis and Chris Messina. While Air might not get a Best Picture nomination, it seems possible if not likely that Davis sneaks into the supporting actress category. Messina is absolutely unhinged and has one of the best freak outs in recent history. The choice to not show Michael Jordan directly in the film is handled with grace.
With a runtime at just under two hours, Air is a breeze to watch and is sure to leave audiences with a smile on their face. It’s equal parts funny and inspiring as this sports biopic seems as faithful to the true story as it could be. With the flood of high concept franchise films as of late, it’s refreshing to see a high profile picture like this. Make sure to see this one in a theater before it gets banished to Prime Video.
Air is now playing in theaters.