Ford vs Ferrari is a movie that takes its responsibilities seriously and will satisfy both hardcore racing fans and someone who is completely new to this world.
Directed by James Mangold, the movie tells the story of a mass manufacturing commercial vehicle company competing against an established racing giant in an egotistical battle to win the Le Mans ’66, led by a team with Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles at the helm.
I’ve been waiting for a movie like this all year. Something that is extremely entertaining and fun to watch, but at the same time takes filmmaking seriously. Right after Logan in 2017, James Mangold has given another cinematic delight that will please both hardcore racing fans and someone completely new to this world. The biggest accomplishment here is, as you’d expect, the racing. The visuals never shy away from showing us the entire car in action and get in close to the ends of the car in tight corners. Since the cars are vintage, some shots did feel like they were CG, but it’s so well done that I could honestly be completely wrong. But the best technical feat by far is the sound. The grunge of the engine, the screeching of the tires and the air cutting through have been done superbly well to make these monstrous cars feel authentic. And when the cars are off track, the narrative does its best to explain the engineering of these cars as simply as it can without dumbing it down.
The performances by both Damon and Bale take the spotlight for sure but even the supporting cast including Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts, and Josh Lucas do justice to their corporate men in fancy suits. Not all corporate men are scum and the movie does well to highlight that. Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, a man stuck in the middle of a near-impossible task while also battling constant interference from these men in suits who understand nothing about racing. His job is incredibly difficult trying to get this victory but at the same time taming the mad bull that is Bale’s character. Bale plays an almost eccentric and unapologetic driver who couldn’t care less about the fame or money beyond making his ends meet. In fact, I don’t think I ever heard him say anything about beating Ferrari throughout the entire runtime. He chases the ‘perfect lap’, not necessarily the victory. He is determined to make the car as good as it can get, rather than trying to outdo a competitor. And despite being loud, rude and at times cocky, there is an honesty in his passion towards racing, and every time he does gain composure, it’s totally believable.
There’s probably just one criticism I have for the movie and it’s completely understandable considering it’s trying to be on even ground for both hardcore racing fans and newcomers. The dialogue can often get expository and at times can explain the situation far too much than the audience requires. Characters often talk about off-screen events in far too much detail and that can at times feel heavy-handed. But these scenes are few in number and are filled with great humor and character moments so they don’t get annoying.
Ford vs Ferrari is a movie that takes its responsibilities seriously. It does justice to racing. It does justice to the characters that risked their lives with racing and it doesn’t hold back when it depicts two egotistical automobile giants. James Mangold is incredible behind the camera, knowing its bounds when it comes to the actual races (even with the shots with possible CG) and off-track with nail-biting character conflicts. Both lead actors and the supporting cast give amazing performances consistent with their varied characters. Do not miss this film no matter what opinion you hold on the actual racing.
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