Thursday, November 14, 2019

Ford v Ferrari

While I'm not much of a fan of racing, I do love a good racing movie. Based on true events, Ford v Ferrari centers around the friendship of a pair of outcasts who went to work for Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts). Looking to liven-up his brand, and after being embarrassed by failing to buy Ferrari, Ford greenlit plans to develop a Ford racing car capable of beating the dominant Ferrari racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (an event which Ferrari had won four out of the previous five years).

Built on the backs of performances by Matt Damon as former racer turned car designer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as race car driver and mechanic Ken Miles, Ford v Ferrari is a little different than many racing films as the main characters aren't rivals but friends (who, admittedly, occasionally attack each other in public). Despite their disagreements and spats, the screenplay works by selling the audience fairly early on how similar the two men were in their love of cars and racing. Although it relies on a familiar formula, Ford v Ferrari does offer some unpredictable moments, including an ending those unfamiliar with the story may be surprised by.

Ford v Ferrari certainly doesn't break the mold, but it is a crowd-pleaser that is helped by strong performances by both of its leading men. There are better racing films, if you haven't already seen it I would recommend tracking down 2013's Rush, but director James Mangold and his stars do capture something in exploring the personalities that racing attracts, and the troubles those same individuals run into while not on the track. Delving into the relationship between Miles and his wife (Caitriona Balfe) and son (Noah Jupe) turns out to offer the film a nice subplot, even if it does provide the movie with some questionably sappy moments. And I'll give Josh Lucas credit for selling Ford executive Leo Beebe as a complete douchebag you love to hate in a film that lacks a true villain.

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