“Ford v Ferrari” stars Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, and Ray McKinnon. Released on November 15, 2019, the film follows the rivalry between two motor companies.
The film is directed by James Mangold, who also directed films such as “Cop Land”, “Kate & Leopold”, “Walk the Line”, and “Logan”. The race for the gold in this year’s awards season is now starting to heat up this month, and it looks like we have another contender heading towards the starting line. With the combination of racing and filmmaking, it’s no wonder that I was excited to see a film that involves building race cars. These types of films always have me at the edge of my seat with the sound of the cars speeding down the tracks and their uncontrollable sense of intensity that makes me wonder which racer will cross the finish line first (my money’s on the protagonists). This latest fact-based drama is no exception based on the marketing. I’m not that big into engineering and car designing, but that didn’t stop me from seeing this story in action, especially since it had director James Mangold in the driver’s seat and a talented cast as his trusty pit crew. Will they be enough to finish first? Let’s find out.
Based on actual events, the film’s story focuses on the relationship between automotive visionary Carroll Shelby (Damon) and professional racer Ken Miles (Bale). They are tasked by the Vice President of Ford Lee Iacocca (Bernthal) and the CEO of Ford Henry Ford II (Letts) to create a car that will help the company beat the Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Before I went into this film, I did some research on the 24 Hours of Le Mans event so that I had a clear idea on what I was getting myself into. It turns out that not only has it been around for 96 years, but it is also a race that tests the cars’ endurance and efficiency. In other words, the drivers drive around the track for 24 hours and the one with the greatest distance wins. It does sound crazy at first, but from what I read, it’s actually a bit more exciting compared to a traditional race for first place. Exhausting, but exciting. The film explores the characters that are responsible for creating and testing out the Ford GT40 as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans event that pits Ford Motor Company against the dominant Ferrari. It’s almost hard for me to believe that a film like this would make its simplistic story compelling with such a beefy runtime (2 hours and 32 minutes). Luckily for the filmmakers, it was able to prove me wrong. This is another biopic that knows how to make its fact-based concept fun and exciting while honoring the real-life characters who accomplished this daring feat thanks to some well-directed drama elements. It’s as long as “Doctor Sleep”, but it didn’t feel that long to me. Every scene in the film in terms of drama and racing cruised right along without making an unnecessary pit stop. James Mangold was able to offer a clear balance that made the characters just as important as the race sequences. He completely understood the fact that one aspect can’t work well without the other. Despite a couple of scenes that felt a bit iffy, I was highly engaged with its story and its well-developed characters. Matt Damon and Christian Bale were excellent together as Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles respectively, especially Bale, who delivered one of his best performances of his career so far. He did wonders in portraying someone who’s a bit of a hot head, but has a good heart. Not only that, but he provided some highly entertaining moments that I thought were pretty hilarious. Yes, the film had a good sense of humor, which meant that it did its part in making the drama elements fun. The racing sequences were the main draw of “Ford v Ferrari”, and unsurprisingly, they didn’t disappoint. This is one of the films that deserve to be seen with the best sound system. When it comes to the cinematography, the editing, Mangold’s direction, and the sound mixing, the race scenes made me feel like I was inside the action. They’re fast, heart-pounding, and downright riveting.
Overall, “Ford v Ferrari” is a gripping and entertaining matchup that’ll make racing fans cheer alongside the non-racing enthusiasts. Its runtime may come off as a bit of an issue for some people, and there were a couple of dramatic moments that were close to being perfect, but everything else was a blast to watch due to its cast, its fun characters, an engaging story, and some fantastic racing sequences. If there’s one film that you should definitely watch on the big screen with the best sound, make sure that it’s “Ford v Ferrari”. You won’t regret it.