Ciao! Thank you again for tuning in aboard the Train; to newcomers, calling me Gavin will work just fine. Today’s review is for the award-winning sports drama Ford v. Ferrari, released not terribly long ago in 2019 and directed by James Mangold of Walk the Line and Logan. This is dipping my toes in more recent waters, but there’s always a start for everything, right? Without further ado, let’s get this show on the road! Or racetrack, whatever works.
Set during the colorful 60s backdrop, Carroll Shelby is met with the opportunity by the Ford Motors Co. to compete against the successful Italian sports car producer Enzo Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With only a few months on the line, the Ford engineers design the GT40 Mk 1 for the race, earning the aid of irritable British mechanic Ken Miles in the process. Can Shelby and Miles beat the Ferrari’s winning streak?
The most aggravating about Ford v. Ferrari is not the movie’s fault in the slightest, though a few duds will be inquired momentarily. The title of the feature is nowhere near wretched, but it could have come out stronger. It’s emotional core and even the genuine screenplay itself aren’t focused on the clash between these two car manufacturers; rather, it stands firmly with morphing a well-rounded main pair of comrades. Ford is more against Ford then they are Ferrari here. Think about it: Shelby is frequently bickering with his money-hungry bosses over the development for nearly every circumstance… so was that title truly the best fit within context?
But why am I making a big fuss over something so indifferent as, well, a title? Digging down into the nitty-gritty, the motion picture can be a bit slow at times. No doubt that the two-and-a-half hour length is a factor there. I do wholeheartedly respect more character-orientated movies, and don’t get me wrong, the balance between thrilling racing choreography that audiences crave and well-written drama is done fairly. I can’t add anything insightful to praise Ford v. Ferrari that hasn’t already been described, except that it’s one of my favorite sports films at the moment alongside Rocky Balboa. ‘Cause no matter how much I talk about obscure 70s bargain bin treasures, this stuff is admittedly better work; what’s amusing to me in retrospect, I reference and bring up my adoration for b-movie commodities, but deep down I note how Ford v. Ferrari has a far fresher quality than Viva Knievel. All apologies to Evel.
I am going to turn the attention now to the acting (hopefully none of you mind!). In this, the film is excellent. Matt Damon as Shelby has a handful of great interactions against his good-for-nothing corporate bosses, such as a scene where they lock the antagonistic vice president in his office and takes Henry Ford II on a drift outside. Meanwhile, the volatile Miles is depicted by Christian Bale, who brings a nice charisma into his role as a dedicated racer.
Though the overstretched runtime becomes exasperating, this energetic race does offer enough stellar sequences at Le Mans to make it worth the trip. You don’t even need to be a middle-aged suburban father to enjoy this one! Mangold’s zinging zest and vintage Hollywood vibe feels remarkable, especially in this day and age. It’s basically fundamental cinema. Definitely recommended to all suburban dads out there (you know who you are)!
RATING: 6/10 “Best Served with a Cold Beer”
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