Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Review: "Ford v Ferrari" is hi-octane thrill ride.

Ford v Ferrari Review
"Ford v Ferrari" tells the story of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. This is a sportscar championship car race that literally takes a day of completion. A racing team assembled by Ferrari cars had won numerous races before 1966, and Ford was planning on sticking it to them one year. Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, the only American to win the Le Mans race in 1959 and he is paired with hotheaded British driver Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. Ken Miles is very outspoken, which nearly makes him lose the job, but the partnership proves futile and they eventually win the day.

Yes, its one of those movies. An inspirational yarn full of hope, desire, friendship, and how hard work and perseverance win the day. It's also a wildly interesting film. I am not a motorhead by any means. Sure, I like cars, but I am no expert on them. Thankfully this is a movie that doesn't alienate the audience. Director James Mangold has done a spectacular job not layering in the useless jargon and made a car movie that is accessible to everyone. The races and frantic car driving in this movie are spectacular. Honestly one word says it all, the cars are spectacular to watch in this movie. If you don't care about cars, there is one reason to still see this movie and that's to be rocked by how Mangold stages and shoots his racing sequences.

There is plenty of other reasons to see the movie too, though. Christian Bale is one of my very favorite actors, and he delivers once again another truly memorable performances. Matt Damon seems poised to match him in every scene, and they make a great pair in this world of cars and intrigue. Their development is a little too familiar for any of it to really land on me. I know its based on a true story but it does end up feeling a little too Hollywood for me to take too seriously. Damon's Shelby is a former racer with a heart condition, Bale's Miles is a struggling mechanic whose garage may be seized by the IRS and he's got a family to feed. So of course, they are all going to be in okay, in the end right? Its not totally squeaky clean by the end though. Plus, the actors take every step serious enough that the movie is constantly entertaining. 

There are other great actors in the mix, too. Tracy Letts plays Henry Ford II, and after playing some inspirational characters of late, it was nice to see him play a sleazebag once again. In speaking of sleaebags, wait until you see Josh Lucas in here, a type of character he perfected in the early 2000's. Jon Bernthal also does very good work here.

The story is definitely interesting, and again, Mangold was smart to not make something like its talking down to another part of the audience. The actors are on fire all across the board. The racing sequences are once again...spectacular. But, I am not sure I will revisit this one for pleasure. Its an experience that I feel I got the most out of in one sitting. Highly entertaining and definitely recommendable, though.

FINAL GRADE: B+

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