Ben Affleck's Air called a "feel-good crowd-pleaser" in positive first reactions

Ben Affleck as Nike co-founder Phil Knight in Air
(Image credit: MGM/Warner Bros. )

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...

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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.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.