Muddying up a pair of Air Jordans is an apparent crime to shoe collectors, although they do make for comfortable countryside walking. Red, black, white and now coated in dried mud, bits of grass and presumably horse dung. Either way, wading through the thick and thin of muddy fields and cyclist-clad dirt roads is no small pleasure when torrential rain hits the paths. Somewhere deep within is a need to connect not with nature but a product which, when strapped onto feet, makes for a walking experience like no other. Like gliding across a pavement made up of Chicago Bulls jerseys. So too is the feeling made up in Air, a feature which glides through history with a star-studded cast and all the essentials of sedentary biopic charm.
Stacked heavily with stars and oozing the usual Matt Damon and Ben Affleck charm, Air gets away with the legacy of Michael Jordan and glides on through its connection to the Nike shoe. Gambling their way to success and the inevitability of it, Air makes sure its story is contained but surprising. Difficult, considering every JD Sport sells mountains of the popular sole and shoe, so selling a story on its potential failure proves difficult. Winding through that road is an exceptional experience though and Affleck’s consistencies behind the camera make for a welcome return. An incredible, integral supporting role from Viola Davis dispenses much of the icon imagery present on the shoe, the important step to success just a throw away from complete.
Down the Dire Straits pipeline viewers go, guided by Money for Nothing in an opening slideshow befitting of the modern biopic state. Throwing every pocket of recognisable 1980s product at the screen to get it out the way is a lazy style of setting the scene but its natural shift to Damon watching national games works well enough. Damon is a steady pair of hands as he often is, the role of neutered, middle-aged bloke suits him well and proved as much in Promised Land. Chris Tucker continues his fine supporting-role form, an unsung gem as Alfred Molina is. Jason Bateman provides the face of stagnation, a strong turn for him as his representation of Rob Strasser whirs away in a broken machine. Sports franchises are made on knowledge of the sport, not on boardroom predictions.
Products are made by the people who appropriate and represent them. Jordan, the image of success and especially so after The Last Dance documented it all, is a resounding figure. There is a reason failures or controversial characters do not give endorsements, nor are they asked for them. Advertising agencies would be hard-pressed to find a product suitable for Lance Armstrong or the Crystal King, an ill-forgotten LEGO villain from The Adventures of Clutch Powers. Either way, marketability is integral. Jordan was that marketability for Nike, and Damon is that marketability for Air, a resoundingly solid and well-paced biopic which documents a major success for an eerie conglomerate. Celebrate the story not the success. Brand is everything for so many, a chilling look into the influence of sports stars and celebrities on the purchasing process of fans across the globe.