‘Ford V Ferrari’ // Film Review: An Underdog Story at High Speed

If there’s a sports movie coming out, and it usually revolves around taking a shot at becoming the best to not become the underdog, then you got me. Those are the best kinds coming from the guy who doesn’t give a lick about sports. Who knew Ford V Ferrari‘s story sounded investing enough to finally make a film about it that could easily become one of the biggest pleasers of the fall movie season? It has Jason Bourne, Batman, and race cars, that’s all the basics most moviegoers need to know.

What’s the Story: As Ford hasn’t made a name for themselves over the years through being one of the biggest American auto companies, they enlist the help of former race- car driver, now engineer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and a team to make a faster car of their own so they can beat Ferrari at their game. With the help of his friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale) behind the wheel, they will go head-to-head against Ferarri to, hopefully, win the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Ford V Ferrari was one of my most anticipated movies of the entire month based solely on the story and who’s involved with it. Trust me when I say I’m not the kind of guy that’s interested in car races or a so-called gearhead, even though I appreciate the designs. However, I am fond of the Ford Mustang. But we haven’t had a solid sports drama about cars since the underrated Rush. But it seems like this takes its place, as James Mangold’s latest is definitely drifting into the fast-track into the Oscar race. 

There’s no way two of some of my favorite actors in the world wouldn’t give top tier performances, and it’s safe to say both Bale and Damon had terrific chemistry with one another. They offer a solid relationship to show that they’re good buddies, even when they can be at odds with each other occasionally. I will purposely say Bale overshadows Damon in a lot of the scenes they share. Could you even imagine if Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were in it instead? I honestly couldn’t. Also, does it feel weird that Bale is using his English accent the entire time here, especially coming off of the kind of forgettable Vice? The possibility of an Oscar- nomination between the two isn’t out for discussion, but it might.

Even though its titled Ford V Ferrari, the film is mainly about Carroll and Shelby as normal people trying to make a difference in their professional field of work, while also competing against the opposing car company. It just goes to show that it’s a film about not giving up on hope when everything doesn’t fall into place, especially when working hard and collaborating is key. Competing against rival companies to see which is better lends to problems that can’t be reached. The persistence of making this happen doesn’t take away from the fact it takes a risk. Ken just wants to provide for his family, and even though he’s a great driver, his attitudes differ from the others. Carroll offers him the job to make it work to share the same goal. If that’s not a true sign of friendship, I don’t know what is.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Besides them, I gotta say the rest of the ensemble cast is terrific. There’s Tracy Letts (we share the same birthday btw) as Henry Ford II, Jon Bernthal not playing the bad guy Lee Iacocca, vice president of Ford, and Josh Lucas as senior executive vice president Leo Beebe, who’s the perfect guy to play the dick.

But the two that were my favorites outside Bale and Damon were Noah Jupe and Caitriona Balfe as Ken’s son and wife, where the family dynamic worked in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Jupe is slowly becoming one of my favorite child actors working today, and the scenes with him and Bale worked out perfectly. Then the Outlander actress, though the only main actress throughout, surprised me with the range she brought besides being the typical housewife. She has a scene that involves her driving a car that was kind of funny.

Mangold has already proven himself to be a talented director that has him do anything from a classic biopic like Walk the Line, to a spectacular comic book movie like Logan from two years ago. He directed a beautifully looking drama that exceeds the most when the race sequences are shot. The one regret was that I wished I was this in IMAX to get a better experience out of them, but they were handled so smoothly without filming it to be shaky and have it in-camera. The hearing the roaring engines and the glued to your seat moments to kicking the car into gear was exciting. Though I was kind of expecting a lot more, it didn’t exactly bother me.

With a story like this being told, this would’ve been perfect in the 1970s since the style didn’t feel like a typical Hollywood movie from Fox. That’s probably because the screenplay paints it in a way that doesn’t have a lot of action when it’s mostly just characters discussing what’s needed to build a car or how to win. Those moments where it needed to throw in some of that humor, I definitely laughed a few times, especially a hilarious fight between Carroll and Ken on the grass.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Though what kept Ford V Ferrari from reaching that great status was it clocks in at 152-minutes.Sure, the plot might be predictable, but since this was a true story, I didn’t exactly know what would happen, if some parts were factually true. It felt too long about halfway through. Some people wouldn’t even notice the length, but maybe it was because I went into the theater feeling tired.

Even though Ford V Ferrari didn’t leave a lasting impression on me when I walked out on the theater, I can still say this was very entertaining to sit through. Who knows if this will end up on my best list of 2019, but this is definitely worth a re-watch later on just to see if the pacing problem changes for me.

Grade: B+

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