Argo director Ben Affleck jumps behind the camera once again to direct his bestie, Matt Damon, in this uplifting sports drama based on true events.
The Jerry Maguire-esque Sonny Vaccaro (Damon) likes to gamble — which shows he likes to take risks. He works for Nike CEO Phil Knight (Affleck) as the company’s basketball division expert. He looks for up-and-coming players and offers them shoe endorsement deals, and currently he has his eye on a young Michael Jordan. Sonny thinks Jordan is worth the full price they’re offering. The VP of marketing Robert Strasser (Jason Bateman) thinks it’s a liability to do so. He tries to get a meeting with Jordan by talking with his agent David Falk (Messina), but the athlete is more interested in signing with Adidas.
Jordan’s genius on the court goes without saying, and yet the film shrewdly decodes the 21-year-old’s potential, spelled out after Vaccaro studies a tape of Jordan’s first year on his university’s team. This and other key moments play out like classic scenes from an Aaron Sorkin film, blending the inside-baseball insights of Moneyball with The Social Network-style power games.
The last of Knight’s 10 rules reads, “If we do the right things we’ll make money damn near automatic.” The Jordan deal saved the company. The rest is history.
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