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  • Writer's pictureEllis Barthorpe

Air ★★★★

Ben Affleck

Starring Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Julius Tennon

Biopics have become regularity in cinema in the past decade, and occasionally a gem emerges that has its intentions in the right place. Air tells the story of Nike's long-standing relationship with basketball legend Michael Jordan, and how that relationship originally came to be. Though this is not a Michael Jordan biopic full of basketball and stardom.

Ben Affleck is behind the camera once again, for the first time directing his lifelong friend and former writing partner Matt Damon. Damon leads the movie as Phil Knight, a man specialising in the basketball decision of Nike, finding young up-and-comers to gain sponsor deals with the company.

Joined by Jason Bateman's dry-witted Rob Strasser, Chris Tucker's enthusiastic Howard White and Matthew Maher's Peter Moore, the film is full of big-hitters that deliver in every scene; even Affleck himself delivers a comedic turn as the CEO of the company.

The dialogue is fluent and legal conversations exciting, and a change in pace comes when Viola Davis enters the fold as Jordan's mother (a personal request from the Michael Jordan himself). She is always phenomenal and here, her and Damon throw back and forwards to eachother to create an acting-masterclass.

The story is historic and common knowledge, so things could have easily felt formulaic or predictable, but Air somehow keeps you enthralled; at one point it seems the decision may sway the other way, and you believe it, despite the truth being written in the history books.

A film full of grit and determination, and directed with class (several references to 1984, the year the film is set, make it all feel of a piece), Air may fall into the biopic formula, but stellar performances make the formula remain enjoyable.

Air available in UK cinemas now

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