Director: James Mangold
Release Date: November 2019
Plot: American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
Fast cars, a talented director and two of the best leading men working in Hollywood today, it’s hard to see how Ford v Ferrari can be anything but a fantastic film, with the Oscar nomination for best film to back up that fact. But as someone with only a passing interest in cars and motorsport is the film well enough to keep you entertained, I would argue that yes it is.
Mangold’s energetic direction combined with perfect chemistry between Bale and Damon helps to move the story along and, more importantly, makes you care about each character and their motivations. The Writers also played their part to help give the strong bond the two share feel engaging and authentic despite their differing styles.
Ford v Ferrari also succeeds in building up the supporting characters including Millie Miles (Caitriona Balfe), Lee Iacocca (Bernthal) the no-nonsense Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts), iconic Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone). which helps make the film more than just a rivalry between the two carmakers, in-fact I’d argue that the actual 24 Hours of Le Mans race makes up only a small part of the film, serving only to provide motivations.
The final hour of Ford V Ferrari is where the film takes it up a gear (see what I did there) and finally starts to focus on the racing over the dramas between characters, it’s a truly great series of racing set-pieces, with the art of motorsport given an almost romantic touch as Ken Miles pontificates about reaching the magical 7000 rpm.
Every over-take, corner or crash in the film is a visual delight, it’s clear to see that Mangold knew exactly how to shoot a racing film and his choice to use as little CGI as possible really paid off. Though I will say that some technical terminologies that are used might go over the head of audience members not up to date with the sport.
In the end, although Ford V Ferrari has somewhat of an old-fashioned vibe, the race scenes are terrific, the acting is pitch-perfect, and the drama hits when it needs to. Even if you’re not big into motorsport, you’ll find something to keep you entertained. Though I do feel the final 10 minutes could have been handled a bit better to give it more emotion.