Reviews: Review of “Air: The Story Behind the Logo” by Ben Affleck, with Matt Damon and Jason Bateman

Ben Affleck plays Phil Knight, founder of Nike, but above all he was responsible for directing a remarkable cast headed by Matt Damon in this film that at first seems like an infomercial about the successful sporting goods company, but actually claims the visionary brainchild of a common man named Sonny Vaccaro that forever changed marketing and the structure of business. Heir to the best Hollywood classicism, Affleck builds an impeccable film that will also become the largest release in history in theaters around the world for an Amazon Studios original production.

Air: the story behind the logo (air, United States/2023). Directed by: Ben Affleck. Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, Viola Davis, Matthew Maher, and Julius Tennon. Screenplay: Alex Convery. Photography: Robert Richardson. Editing: William Goldenberg. Music supervisor: Andrea von Foerster. Distributor: Warner Bros. (Amazon production). Duration: 112 minutes. Suitable for all audiences with legends.

Ben Affleck is an actor as correct as he is limited who usually has the good sense not to look for roles that are too far from his comfort zone. That trait of intelligence is transferred to his facet as a director, in which he also moves within a limited terrain, if you will, but with much more stimulating results. It is that few filmmakers of his generation (he is about to turn 50) follow the path that Clint Eastwood or Steven Spielberg are still leading: that of a narrative classicism and a nobility of spirit that is proof of irony and cynicism.

After the in several notable cases Disappeared One Night / Gone Baby Gone (2007), Dangerous Attraction / The Town (2010), Argo (2012) and Live by night / Live by Night (2016), Ben Affleck directed this story inspired by a true event: the story of John Paul Vincent “Sonny” Vaccaro (Matt Damon), a basketball expert (especially college) who joined Nike and had the idea -very resisted initially- of hiring a then very young Michael Jordan, who had not yet entered the NBA, and basing a good part of the company’s campaign on the segment of sneakers in the line that would later be called precisely Air Jordan.

But first you have to understand the context: Nike was a rather small company in 1984 with minimal participation compared to giants like Adidas or Converse, especially in the basketball universe (it was doing much better in the running market with an audience mostly WASP). With a very limited budget and with professional players fully focused on their powerful competitors, there was not much to do until Vaccaro gambled fully on a single idea: bet all the (scarce) money available to sign Jordan, who was coming to stand out in college basketball, but at 21 he was still a long way from being the best athlete in history (or second, if we place a certain Leo Messi at the top).

What at first glance seems (and a bit is) an exercise in brand management, an informercial tailored to a giant like Nike, is essentially an exploration and vindication of entrepreneurship, of the realization of the much-mentioned American dream. Vaccaro is an obsessive and lonely guy who carries his own ghosts (such as a gambling compulsion, gambling addiction that is later completely abandoned in the plot), but whose stubbornness, obstinacy and talent led him to change the world forever. area in which he moved with more intuition than resources: sports marketing.

Luck of Jerry Maguire: seduction and challenge of the new century, Air: the story behind the logo (the local subtitle is quite ridiculous and inappropriate) has the rigor, solidity, charm and tension of any narrative conceived with intelligence and sensitivity. There is, of course, a dramatic construction with some suspense, but the main achievement goes through the exploration of the psychology of the different characters, in a range that focuses on the friendship between Knight and Vaccaro, but also has very valuable contributions from – among others- Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman), a sort of direct boss of Damon’s character; David Falk (a notable Chris Messina), Jordan’s ruthless agent; and Deloris Jordan (Viola Davis), Michael’s mother and in charge of overseeing his career in a role that at times refers to that of Will Smith in King Richard: A Winning Family.

Beyond what he wanted to expose and exalt, Affleck was always clear that this typical story of an underdog who fights against all kinds of prejudices, shortcomings, and setbacks in the field of corporations should be told with a great sense of humor and humor. entertainment. In that sense, Air: The story behind the logo -which at times reminds of the best moments of Social networkby David Fincher- confirms him as one of the most solid storytellers of our time.

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