Review: Ford v Ferrari
That need for speed, it started long before Top Gun. Kids have raced their bikes for pocket money bets, hot rodders have wagered their vehicles on who can conquer the streets, and in the big leagues, millions and millions are put into building the perfect F1, Nascar, IndyCar vehicle to bring glory to a team, and to a driver. Ford v Ferrari invites us into the lives of men who can’t not throw it all into the race.
The only American to win the historic and insanely dangerous 24 Hours of LeMans is to date Carroll Shelby, portrayed here by Matt Damon. Ford v Ferrari picks up a few years after Shelby’s 1959 triumph; we meet him now involuntarily retired due to heart problems. He is a successful designer and supplier of the custom highend racecars coveted by pros and the wealthy public, and he is still kneedeep in the exclusive world of racing.
Our other protaganist is Ken Miles, a veteran British driver, an engineer of high-tech engines, and from the looks of it a mechanic working 9-5 in his community and somewhat separate from his winning ways. He is quite a take-no-prisoners character.
Ford v Ferrari takes James Mangold to the 60s
Shelby is a living legend, hit up for autographs at events and now tapped by the Ford corporation, by Henry Ford II ( a fantastic Tracy Letts), as the key to disrupting the lock that Ferrari has on winning races such as Le Mans. Ford the junior needs to show that Ford the company can make world class vehicles (and profits). He wants to win at any cost.
Over the past 20 years James Mangold has shown himself to be an intriguing director of human stories – think Girl, Interrupted and Walk the Line and Logan. Can he deliver a rough and tumble, boys and their toys period piece?
Ford v Ferrari is a look at the crazy world of high stakes racing
Yes. You don’t have to know about or enjoy racing to appreciate Ford v Ferrari, or Le Mans ’66 as it is called outside of the USA. With a charming and intelligent script by Jez Butterworth, the playwright behind the theatrical smash The Ferryman, his brother John-Henry and Mangold, the story is about the people, not the sport.
Shelby and Miles have one thing in common to start, but in coming up against corporate naysayers for whom image and marketing is everything, they solidify to make a (mostly) successful team. Damon and Bale are great, they sink into their roles; the supporting cast are equally realistic and the story, mostly if not all true, is moving. These are heroes, daring their lives in an age of speed before safety, where wining was everything and death was on the line. See Ford v Ferrari and watch them go.
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A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.