Ford v. Ferrari Movie Review
After watching Ford v Ferrari, I may have driven my 2007 Toyota Corolla home a little more quickly than usual. Fast, entertaining, and funny—the movie, not my car—the new Matt Damon/Christian Bale racecar drama is easily one of the year’s best, a pure jolt of adrenaline, grease and burned tires.
Directed by James Mangold (Logan, Walk the Line), Ford v Ferrari is based on the true story of American car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Bale) as they attempt to create a Ford racecar that can defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Pairing Damon and Bale with the screenplay by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow) and Jason Keller is a masterstroke, the two stars eating up every moment and word as few other actors can. Damon is great, but Bale is stupendous, once again delivering a performance unlike any other he’s put to screen. Ken Miles is a socially awkward asshole with extreme sarcasm; Bale brings him to life with immense charm and wit.
I’ve never been a racecar fan—I don’t get it, and have no interest in ever watching it—but Ford v Ferrari is an absolute blast, a movie you can cheer for about people you can cheer for.
Interestingly, even though the Americans are the protagonists (and not those awful Italians, grazie), the Ford Motor Company is not painted in a positive light; even down to the final minutes of the final race, Shelby and Miles find themselves battling against their corporate overlords. The movie, as it turns out, embraces individual spirit and innovation—especially in the face of bureaucracy and brand.
Back to the movie. The race scenes are excellent; Mangold captures a real sense of speed and suspense. The movie is also surprisingly funny—I laughed out loud at least a dozen times throughout. Most notably, even though the film is two and a half hours long, it never feels it; Mangold’s fast pace, the movie’s writing, and the charm of its stars make for a winning combination, one that will make you want to drive just a little faster as you leave the theater.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.