Despite the title, Ford v Ferrari is not about the cars. Nor is it about the giants Henry Ford II or Enzo Ferrari. And, contrary to how it may appear in trailers, it’s not even a “rah, rah, go America!” film that’s designed to make you go out and purchase a Ford as soon as the movie is over. In fact, it may actually make you feel less strongly about the company because of how beaurocratic is appears to be. Anyway, the movie is essentially about a group of men in the mid-60’s who attempt to build a Ford that could take on Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France…..in 90 days.
Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in this 2.5-hour drama/action/comedy that is receiving amazing movie reviews from general audiences and critics alike. It’s an easy film to recommend to almost anybody. The characters are fantastic, the story is both moving and exciting, the race scenes are spectacular, and you will be fully immersed for the full length of the film. Some scenes will have you laughing out loud while others will have you at the edge of your seat. And if you see Ford v Ferrari in theatres, you will really get the full experience of feeling like you are inside the cars as they are racing down the track at 200mph. What’s not to love?
While it takes about an hour to get to the main story (building the race car to beat Ferrari), that first hour is definitely not time wasted. You really get a chance to know each of the characters and understand their motivations.
Carroll Shelby (Damon) is a retired race car driver and previous winner of Le Mans in 1959. He is in the business of car sales and modifications when he gets approached to do the impossible: find a way to get a Ford to beat a Ferrari at Le Mans in ‘66. Ken Miles (Bale) is a hotheaded driver who lives and breathes cars (he also runs a repair shop) but has fallen on hard times since racing doesn’t really pay the bills. He is completely dedicated to his wife (Caitriona Balfe) and son (Noah Jupe) but can’t pass up the opportunity to work alongside Shelby, especially when Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) is sparing no expense in this endeavour.
The Ford Motor Company isn’t painted in the best light as folks from the marketing department (a loathesome Josh Lucas) are in danger of derailing the whole project due to “image issues” and don’t really seem to understand how difficult the task at hand actually is. Thus, the main conflict isn’t really between Ford and Ferrari, it’s mostly between Ford beaurocrats and their own progress/innovation. If you don’t know who wins out in either situation, all the more reason to check it out.
Bale pulls off a character that not many others could in Ford v Ferrari – Ken Miles is a know-it-all that rubs people the wrong way in every aspect of his life (aside from family), but as a viewer you have nothing but love for him. Bale can truly transform himself into any character and it’s amazing to watch him bring the famous driver, racing engineer, and Motorsports Hall of Famer to life in the film. Director James Mangold (Logan, Knight and Day, 3:10 to Yuma) made sure that the character of Carroll Shelby was the anchor – the reliable, cool-under-pressure type to balance out the fiery Miles.
Both Damon and Bale give off a really refreshing “buddy” vibe as the movie plays out – resulting in some giggle-worthy moments. You get the sense that there is mutual respect and confidence in the other’s abilities (both on and off the screen). As mentioned before, this is not a car advertisement pretending to be a movie – it’s more about the people behind the cars than the vehicles themselves. You don’t even have to be a “car person” to appreciate what plays out on screen. It’s fun, the dialogue is great, and it’s not all action and no substance (looking at you Fast & Furious franchise).
It’s an exciting time in the history of motorsports that deserves to be seen on the big screen. Interestingly, this movie is called Le Mans ‘66 in a lot of other countries. Probably because the brand names mean more to the North American general public (young and old) than the name of a race in France (this is where certain people in their 60’s will shake their heads in shame). But, it was probably a smart move because it has already grossed $84M domestically since its release on November 13, 2019.
James Mangold takes his experience in multiple genres (rom com, gritty drama, biopic, and even dabbling in the X-Men universe) and creates something truly enjoyable with an interesting retro feel. You’ll definitely be watching this one more than once!
If you’re at all in doubt about whether it’s your type of film, just check out its Rotten Tomatoes score below:
Watch the official trailer here: