Ford V. Ferrari is a fantastic racing movie and is a first-place finish of a film. Based on the true story of how former racer and car designer Carroll Shelby and British racer Ken Miles took Ford to the Le Mans in a battle against the defending multi-champion Ferrari, this is a high-octane biographical which even people who know nothing about cars can enjoy.
Don’t look now, but Christian Bale is actually recognizable – there are no body transformations and he even gets to use his own accent, although it may be emphasized for sake of character. And while he may not be drawing headlines for how much weight he’s lost or gained, Bale still knocks it out of the park. I’m convinced he can do anything, one of the finest actors of his generation. The persona of Ken Miles is a compelling one, as Bale demonstrates his character’s struggle to balance family and passion, and you want to see him succeed but you also become frustrated with him as sometimes he can’t get out of his own way; a bloody good driver, but not a people person. Also, Matt Damon is finally in a good movie! Since when? The Martian? His chemistry with Bale is excellent, enough to make Ben Affleck jealous, and as Carroll Shelby he understands what it takes to win Le Mans, but making the heads of Ford understand? That’s a different story. No matter how many times he’s crossed by an executive, or a car blows up, or Ken breaks a windshield with a wrench or calls someone an idiot, Shelby doesn’t give up – it’s that same energy which allowed him to be the first American to win Le Mans that lets him put his buddy in position to do the same. This is a story about getting up when you’re knocked down, never giving up, and fighting for what you’re passionate about.
Under the direction of James Mangold, who directed Logan, Ford V. Ferrari is brilliantly paced as it makes its way around the track. The film, even in its more intimate moments, is never boring. And Mangold and his writers do a great job at setting up their characters so that you not only root for them, but when the heartbreaking twist of how the race finishes for Ken (if you know the story already you know what I’m talking about), it stings. Coming from the guy who was rooting for Chick Hicks at the end of Cars, the fact that I was actively cheering for Miles and Shelby in my head should say something.
The races are intense, and the sound editing is perfect, you are put right on the raceway with Miles as he passes by yet another car. This movie is just so awesome. 10/10