MOVIE REVIEW: “Ford v. Ferrari” stars Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity, Good Will Hunting), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Vice), Jon Bernthal (Baby Driver, Fury), Caitriona Balfe (Escape Plan, Outlander [TV series]), Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind, Sweet Home Alabama), Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place, Honey Boy), Tracy Letts (Lady Bird, The Big Short), Remo Girone (Live by Night, The Octopus 4), Ray McKinnon (Mud, Deadwood [TV series]), JJ Feild (Captain America: The First Avenger, Centurion), and Jack McMullen (The Souvenir, The Marker). It is directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, Logan) and written by Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow, Black Mass), John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game, Get on Up), and Jason Keller (Machine Gun Preacher, Mirror Mirror). Based on a true story, this film follows former racecar driver Carroll Shelby (Damon), as he is hired by Ford Motors to craft a racecar that will compete against Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hour Le Mans. Shelby brings on friend and mechanic Ken Miles (Bale) to be Ford’s driver, but it will be an uphill battle to not only make the car to beat Ferrari, but convince Ford to let Miles in the seat.
It’s easy to say that James Mangold is one of the best not-talked about directors of this day (at least, when it comes to the general public). His projects span far and wide, reaching back to the nineties with many different genres to touch on. He brough Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine to a poetic close in “Logan” and evoked an Oscar-winning performance from Joaquin Phoenix in “Walk the Line.” Now, he’s going back to 1966 in the Oscar-nominated “Ford v. Ferrari,” a truly American story that surprised audiences when it took to the screens last year. Of course, I didn’t come to watch it until a few nights ago, but nevertheless I am glad I did. The film is an all-around solid piece of cinema. Simple story, fantastic acting, beautiful cinematography, and tons of heart. People have deemed it to be “an old school approach” to storytelling, as well as “the best dad movie.” While I cannot confirm nor deny these statements, I will say that it’s easy to understand where they are coming from when you see this picture. From beginning to end, “Ford v. Ferrari” carves out an idea that audiences can easily get behind. Opening to a narration by Matt Damon on hidding 7,000 rpm, the story unfolds in a dream-like, surreal manner, with a pacing the works effortlessly. The highs and falls in this are spaced out well, with riveting action and emotional drama to keep the audience on its toes. I loved it. To me, it’s reminiscent of how old fashioned Americana was shot: endearing characters, American idealism, and a shot that could be in a Coca-Cola commercial (yep, Damon and Bale clink Coke bottles in this). Who wouldn’t wanna speed down the road at 7,000 rpm after seeing this? Speed limit signs? Car failure? Who needs them! As Jim Croce once sang “95 was the route you were on, it was not the speed limit sign.” But in all seriousness, “Ford v. Ferrari” is a complete film. Both in technicality and structurally. It doesn’t disappoint, capitalizing on its themes of friendship, doing what it takes to win, and pushing the limits. In times like these where there is great hostility in the world (and many political agendas being pushed), it’s nice to sit down and watch a movie that’s just… well, freeing. I’m not a car guy, but I wanted to be after seeing this; the film has that much of an impact. Should it have won Best Picture? It’s hard to say. While I respect it for creating such great escapism, I wouldn’t give it the perfect score. No, I can’t really give you a sure-fire issue to why it doesn’t beat out everyone else. At the end of the day, it’s just preference. “Ford v. Ferrari” is a fantastic film that will surely not disappoint. Damon and Bale are playing at the top of their game, with performances that make them unrecognizable (more so Bale, who escapes in his role). Their chemistry is undeniable and acts as the glue that holds this story together. And with this being a period piece tale, what’s not to love about the overall aesthetic? If you haven’t seen Mangold’s latest picture yet, please… do it. FINAL SCORE: 94%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: