Ben Affleck's new drama Air, which charts Nike's iconic team-up with basketball star Michael Jordan, is earning positive first reactions following its premiere at South by Southwest. In fact, it went down so well with attendees, it seems, that it landed "the biggest standing ovation" of the festival, according to Twitter.
The movie centers on Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), the real-life sneaker salesman who signed Michael Jordan to his first endorsement deal with Nike back in the '80s. While the collaboration seemed risky at the time, given Jordan's rookie status, the athlete's relationship with Nike went on to become one of the most significant celebrity endorsement deals in history, and paved the way for Nike to become the global, multibillion-dollar company we all know today.
Academy Award winner Affleck directs, working with a script from Alex Convery, and also stars in the flick as Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Chris Tucker, Jason Bateman, and Viola Davis round out the cast.
"SXSW 2023 went out on the highest note with AIR — EXCELLENT MOVIE," raved film critic Scott Mantz. "A rousing, feel-good crowd-pleaser about risk, trust, confidence & family! AMAZING CAST & BEN AFFLECK directed the hell out of it! It’s a SLAM DUNK & the BEST MOVIE of the year so far, by far!"
"AIR is a lot more than I thought it would be. Endearingly funny and with a fantastic cast it's probably my favorite film from Ben Affleck. With A LOT of biopics playing at the fest, this one stands out," praised But Why Tho? writer Kate Sánchez.
"Ben Affleck’s AIR is one of the best experiences I've had in a movie theater," said a reporter for The Hollywood Handle. "Entertaining, Hilarious, Hopeful, and the best movie of the year so far. Ben Affleck is amazing and extraordinary as a director."
"AIR is lifted by an incredible cast! Damon, Davis, and Affleck are particularly fantastic! Lots of cheer-worthy sequences, the ending is VERY strong," wrote Awards Daily's Shadan Larki. "Affleck put a lot of heart into this."
Though not everyone was quite as sold on Air's final act: "Air was a fun film… The comedy works & is really good… I think people will like it… The ending was OK. A lot of it hinges on the interrelationships of the characters and they do a good job having chemistry," added Tracey Schulz.
Check out some more reactions below...
Ben Affleck’s #AIR just got probably the biggest standing ovation of #SXSW pic.twitter.com/5PpkIlCFEkMarch 19, 2023
#AIR closed out #SXSW with a buzzer beater! One hell of an A-List cast that showed up and showed out. Whether you’re into Jordan’s or not, it’s a FANTASTIC story of how one of the best athletes of all time grew into a massive brand. Affleck & Damon’s chemistry is as alive as… https://t.co/SR2bzRlNIk pic.twitter.com/akyJqnPejpMarch 19, 2023
There’s nothing particularly special about #AIR. Follows the sports movie playbook but a murderer’s row of character actors doing their thing and energetic direction from Ben Affleck make this a solid “dad” movie. Wouldn’t be surprised if people love this. #SXSW2023 pic.twitter.com/FuzYUeOsEaMarch 19, 2023
Wow! #AIR is an impeccable biopic! Ben Affleck transforms a story that we already know into something not only engaging but also exciting. The film talks about not only this legendary deal but also the problem of exploitation of the image and likeness of young athletes... pic.twitter.com/kAGUmTaM0aMarch 19, 2023
great time at the #AIR world premiere @BenAffleck has done it again - incredible cast & performances 🎞️ @sxsw pic.twitter.com/urbqOUiITbMarch 19, 2023
#AIR is a absolute winner! A movie about the belief people can have in one another when you push boundaries and have faith that gambles can pay off. Affleck’s steady direction shines along an all star cast, with Matt Damon and Viola Davis standing out. Go see this movie!! pic.twitter.com/9WkgDlbklZMarch 19, 2023
Air releases in US theaters on April 5, and UK cinemas on April 7. Given that it's being released by Amazon Studios, it shouldn't be long before it finds its way onto Prime Video. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies coming our way in 2023 and beyond.