Ben Affleck Directs An A-List Ensemble In His Latest Film – Deadline
Did you know that Michael Jordan makes $400 million a year and passive income because of the percentage he earns from selling Air Jordans? To understand how this came about, we have to travel back to the 1980s and the famous sneaker label Nike in Ben Affleck’s latest film Air. Written by Alex Convery, the film stars Affleck, Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Jason Bateman and Julius Tennon.
Sonny Vaccaro (Damon) loves to gamble – which shows he likes to take risks. He works for Nike CEO Phil Knight (Affleck) in the company’s basketball division. He scouts up upcoming b-ball games and offers them shoe endorsement deals, and currently has his eye on an 18-year-old Michael Jordan. Sonny believes Jordan is worth the full price they’re offering ($250,000) and so does Vaccaro’s advisor Howard White (Tucker), but Knight and VP of Marketing Robert Strasser (Bateman) feel it’s an obligation to do that. He tries to get a meeting with Jordan by talking to his agent David Falk (Messina), but the athlete is more interested in signing with Adidas.
With no intention of giving up, Vaccaro steps down the chain of command and flies to North Carolina to speak with Jordan’s parents, Delores (Davis) and James (Tennon). With two upcoming shoe promotion meetings with Adidas and Converse, Sonny asks his mother to reconsider talking to Nike and warns her about what to expect when she talks to those companies. With the CEOs of Nike, Falk and Strasser breathing down his neck trying to close the deal or lose his job, Vaccaro uses clever maneuvers to win the customer and stay employed.
In his fifth feature film, Affleck’s talent exceeds expectations. He’s grown as an actor and director, but he’s at his best when he’s doing both. I’m not sure how he does it. The organization and patience required to balance all of these elements must be exhausting, but I couldn’t tell because he never breaks a sweat. In Air, Affleck uses aerial photographs that show how large some of these campuses are. A staple of his visual style are desaturated scenes that use a mix of greens and blues that matches the tone of his earlier work, but he changes it up here by increasing the brightness and color, making the viewing experience a hopeful one.
Air has the best cast featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest. Each of them gives an award-worthy performance, it’s hard to decide which one is the favourite, and such a rarity for good acting across the board. I’ve seen two Affleck performances at SXSW and it’s easy to tell when he’s excited about a project and when he’s calling it out. Convery’s script has all the elements to ignite the energy needed to pull this off.
Delores Jordan is responsible for her son’s career today. Despite opposition from Nike, she was able to negotiate a deal where Michael would receive a global percentage of every Air Jordan shoe sold. Her stance was that she knows the worth of her son and that “a shoe is just a shoe…until my son steps in it.” The goal was to create shoes that reflect his personality and offer fans something that they can relate to feel closer to the Chicago Bulls player.
See Air, and how the world’s most popular sneaker came about makes me think of the development of the shoe almost 40 years later. People steal, kill and die for a couple. It’s crazy to think that this development starts out harmless and turns customers into rabid consumers. Of course, that’s not Jordan’s problem, but this story puts things into perspective. With so many white men controlling his career, I’m glad I see some sort of advocacy on screen for athletes like Mike and others like him, as this deal with Nike changed the sneaker and basketball industries in monumental ways.