Ben Affleck and Matt Damon teamed up again for Air, Amazon Prime Video's number one movie.
According to FlixPatrol, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have another hit on their hands, with their most recent team-up, Air, debuting as Amazon Prime Video’s most popular movie. Originally the film about Nike’s pursuit of Michael Jordan was supposed to debut on Amazon’s streaming service, but it did so well with test audiences that it received a theatrical release first. Not only did that gamble bring in $85 million, but even after being in theaters, the film is still the biggest streaming release of the week.
Ben Affleck plays Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, while Matt Damon is Sonny Vaccaro, a basketball talent scout for the then-struggling sports apparel company. Taking place in the 80s, Air fictionalizes how these two men took a leap of faith that paid off, with their company becoming one of the largest in the world, thanks to one man: Michael Jordan. At the time, Jordan was the third pick in the NBA Draft, and yes, that does seem stupid in retrospect, but the number one pick, Hakeem Olajuwon, had a brilliant career, while the second pick belonged to the Trailblazers, a team that should never be trusted to pick in the top ten.
In order for Nike to land Jordan, though, they have to deal with his mother, played at the suggestion of Michael Jordan by Viola Davis. The real Deloris Jordan was a tough-as-nails negotiator, something that the always-excellent Davis captures in what may be an award-winning performance later this year. Pulling double-duty in the director’s chair, Ben Affleck somehow makes a film about negotiating the most successful endorsement deal in history engrossing.
Helping with that monumental task is talent in front of the camera that’s comparable to the 1998 Chicago Bulls, as, besides Davis, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon, Air includes Chris Tucker, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, Jason Bateman, Tom Papa, Jay Mohr, and Al Madrigal. Is it any wonder, with that phenomenal cast, that the film proved effective counter-programming when released against The Super Mario Brothers Movie?
The scores on Rotten Tomatoes are equally as impressive, with a 92 percent fresh critic rating and a stunning 98 percent audience score. Ben Affleck, the director, has a better track record of success than Ben Affleck, the actor. Some of the other films he’s directed include Argo, Gone Baby Gone, and The Town, all of which are critical and commercial successes.
Few items in history have been as big a success as the Air Jordan, which incidentally, wasn’t approved footwear by the NBA, causing Jordan to be fined $5,000 every time he wore them in a game. Nike, considering it to be fantastic marketing, would pay the fine every time, and considering the shoe line has earned billions in revenue over the last few decades, that was money well spent. The real origin of the name of the shoes is debated by the people involved, a situation that Ben Affleck handles well in the film itself, with a creative solution that made everyone happy, which is good, since some of the real people were involved behind the scenes.
Katrina Sainz, a minor character played by Jessica Green, ended up leaving Nike to work in Hollywood, which is how she became part of the crew on Air as the art director. Another connection came from Ben Affleck wanting to work with Chris Tucker, who happened to be friends with the real Howard White, the part Tucker was cast to play. There’s no better way to prepare for a role than to talk to the real person.
Somehow, all the various parts in making Air came together for a fantastic final product that makes everyone care about sneakers. Available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video, the film will make waves when it’s time for award nominations, so when Ben Affleck gets a nod as Best Director, know that he deserves it for this movie.
Ben Affleck will next be seen in The Flash, reprising his role as Batman for the last time, unless he’s still included in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which seems to change on a weekly basis. Matt Damon is part of the star-studded ensemble in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which will be out later this summer. As for Michael Jordan, he never has to work again.