Onto the next release of the weekend and this was a film I was most excited about since a very long time! With that I finished watching the new English film AIR which is now streaming on Amazon Prime. One of the most anticipated content on the web would be films made around certain brands which highlight the decisions taken by the executives to build them and make a household name. Running a startup ourselves, these journeys and personal decisions do motivate us in running the show at our end. And AIR did promise to be that film!
We all know how successful Nike as a shoe brand is. All of us love their pair of sneakers which do provide levels of comfort other than being regal in their looks. But if I were to dissect them further, one of the sub-brands of Nike has to be Air Jordan, a shoe named after the NBA Basketball legend Michael Jordan. It is this collaboration between Nike and their decision to bring in Michael Jordan is what had changed the fortunes for the company. And I have been a fan of such stories. On the sports front, one of the best biographical dramas that I had witnessed was Moneyball and since the past many years, not many had come close to that film. Yet, I did have high hopes from AIR which probably did have the potential to not only match the brilliance of Moneyball but also surpass it. That said, does AIR deliver on its promise, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Set in 1984, AIR follows the story of a game changing partership between Nike and NBA legend Michael Jordon that revolutionized the brand and the industry forever. The story is not only inspiring but a tactful representation of the amount of hard work that goes in on running a show typically associated with the major brands across the globe. And it is moments like this in history that come along to completely disrupt the market. The screenplay here standing at just about 112 minutes was taut and it made for one of the most beautiful sports dramas of all times!
One of the biggest strengths of the drama is its writing. It does create those moments of anxiety which would potential fluctuate the pulse of the audience through some well written sequences. The drama does open with a gist of the events unfolding in the year 1984 across the globe. This little sequence did give a sense of the world before the viewers could deep dive into the film. Soon, you are introduced to the three brands, more respectfully competitors who have their share percentage with Nike on the verge of shuttering their basketball shoe-division. A tactical approach does involve them recruiting an NBA talent scout to appoint their next brand ambassador. And thus begins a fascinating journey of going against the odds to make Nike the market leader in days to follow.
The proceedings are engaging and engrossing as it gave me as a viewer some interesting insights that could be studied and dissected from a business point of view. I did enjoy the Nike principles cleverly placed in its narrative that did add substance to the drama. The ability of individuals to always go that extra mile and make risky yet ground-breaking decisions is a lesson for all of us to follow. Also, I did enjoy how the writers did trust their own writing but not changing the trajectory of the story to something sensational, or more importantly not change the narrative style to non-linear. It was a simple trajectory with an effective story-telling, told through a series of sequences that fall well in line with the previous scene, thus maintaining the flow of the drama so well.
One of the biggest victories as far as the writing was concerned was some well etched out characters and their character motivations. This does lead to some interesting conversations, at times with a dash of humour that would evoke a chuckle. But the ability of the writing to not stretch scenes and know where to draw the line is something to be applauded. There are so many emotions in play with uncertainty and remorse to the eventual elation. And those are backed with some solid writing to elevate each of the underlying emotions. The events leading up to the final act(including the hair-raising pitch) will give you goosebumps. The subtle twists and turns are excellent, leading up to the final act that would have most certainly erupted an entire theatre. Overall, the screenplay is indeed a masterclass on how to approach a subject and to create situations that are interesting, and with the right kind of emotions. The word is BRILLIANT!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are filled with gems that absolutely hit home. Some of the most profound lines find themselves in the narrative that make for a solid impact. Hell goosebumps guaranteed! The music does comprise of some famous numbers from the 80s that are peppy and nicely integrated in the screenplay. The final song is a great result of its reference used as a foreshadow. The BGM is excellent and does elevate the drama at so many places.
The cinematography is wonderful and captures the frames beautifully while retaining its underlying emotions. The closeup during the hair-raising pitch was intuitive of the personal offer that was presented to Jordan. The editing is crisp and sharp right throughout. I am a fan of Ben Affleck the director. The man knows to direct events by understanding the underlying emotions and that is the biggest USP of a director. If you understand the written material and have the ability to add flesh and emotions to it, then the drama would more often than not. And such is the case with AIR – a seemingly dry subject(for most) told in the most interesting manner! The direction is excellent here!
The performances are just so brilliant here. Mattjew Maher as Peter, Julius Tennon as Jordan Sr.(such a pleasant character) and Chris Tucker as Howard(brilliant with his comic timing), all have their moments to shine. Chris Messina as the foul mouthed David Falk is hilariously good. Marlon Wayans as George is first rate. Viola Davis as Deloris Jordan delivers a dignified performance as always. Jason Bateman as Rob is wonderful to watch in a job well done. Ben Affleck as Phil is such a natural onscreen and his chemistry with his ol’ mate Matt Damon did turn the clocks around from their Good Will Hunting days. Matt Damon as Sonny is absolutely brilliant with his intricate emotions. He nails his role and how! A brilliant actor coming to the party in a very big way!
AIR is perhaps the best English film that have watched all year, something that I cannot recommend enough! Jeez, it is the best sports biographical drama since Moneyball. Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Highly Recommended!
PS : On a lighter note, if ‘Assi Hazaar ke shoes hai, tera ghar jaaenga isme'(shoes are worth Rs 80K, your will need to sell your house) was a film, then that would be AIR. Sorry, over and out!😅