‘Ford v Ferrari’ is directed by James Mangold and is about the famous car designer Carol Shelby and racer Ken Miles, who battle between corporate red tape and pure racing to challenge Ferrari at the grueling 24 hr, Le Mans race. I, not being a car enthusiast, was not very educated on anything this movie had to show me, but I knew James Mangold has directed some incredible films from ‘3:10 to Yuma’, ‘Walk The Line’, and ‘Logan’, so I was very much looking forward to seeing what ‘Ford v Ferrari’ had under the hood.
Carol Shelby (played by Matt Damon) is petitioned by the Ford Motor Company to design a sportscar and lead a team to beat Ferrari at Le Mans, mainly because Shelby was the only American at that time that had successfully done it. The only issue was Ford did not make sportscars and didn’t have a driver. Enter Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale) who is tough to get along with Englishman who through his hard edges is one of the best drivers who ever lived. When Miles accidentally bumps heads with a Ford executive (played by Josh Lucas) the story evolves from being a straightforward racing film to becoming a study of art v corporation, decisions by one creator or decisions by committee, and where the two roads meet is when Le Mans begins.
This is a terrific film, and coming from a man who has never considered himself a ‘Car guy’, so I was really impressed with how well Mangold was able to suck me into the story. That is due to how excellent the performances were by both Damon and Bale. You really believed that their characters, while often having a contentious relationship, are really more like brothers. Bale gives one of his best performances in this film with a slightly off-kilter performance that might surprise fans that follow Bale’s work. Both Damon and Bale could be considered for awards in their roles, and it makes sense because of how electric their performances were. The supporting cast all hold their own against Bale and Damon, standouts being Ken Miles’s wife and son (played by Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe), along with John Bernthal and Tracy Letts as Lee Iacocca and Henry Ford II.
The racing scenes are edited to perfection. I can’t comprehend how complicated it must be for an editor to look at a 24 race and be able to make a cohesive and energetic engaging scene that doesn’t feel choppy. The camerawork on these cars during the driving is as good as any ‘Mad Max’ film and makes the 2 and 1/2 runtime seem short in those moments. The suspense is properly built you are in the driver’s seat with Miles when he’s driving and just as focused as he is. If the movie should win anything it has to be editing because wow, just wow.
‘Ford v Ferrari’ hearkens back to the classic films of old made in modern times. They truly do not make films like this often with a large budget and no superheroes, and this movie makes a case to start backing independent films on a much grander scale like this. I loved this movie, it does run pretty long and some side stories are a little less fleshed out than others. It’s a crowd-pleaser, and I would definitely recommend seeing this in IMAX!
I’m giving ‘Ford v Ferrari’ a 9/10