I won’t deny that Ford vs. Ferrari is a Dad movie, but it’s also just plain great.
James Mangold’s (Logan) latest film looks at the competition between Ford and Ferrari leading up the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1966. The film stars Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby, a former race car driver who now runs his own company as a car designer and builder. Shelby is hired by Ford to create a car that can beat Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans. Shelby recruits the help of Ken Miles (Christian Bale), a professional race car driver and mechanic, to help him build the car and race at Le Mans. The film hits a lot of tropes you’d expect from a film like this, but also side steps some of the expectations to give a surprising and truly fantastic film.
It’s hard to pinpoint one great aspect of the film, because the entire movie is firing on all cylinders. The performances by everyone in the cast are phenomenal. From Damon and Bale to Caitriona Balfe as Mollie Miles, Ken’s wife, and Josh Lucas as Leo Beebe- a senior executive at Ford who constantly butts heads with Shelby and Miles. Tracy Letts even gets some great moments to shine as Henry Ford II, including a wonderfully satisfying and hilarious car ride in the second act of the film.
It’s surprising how much the film builds to the race before actually getting there, and it’s also surprising how long the film takes at the race. The pacing is fantastic and the film never seems to feel overdrawn, and yet it feels like we spend forever with these characters. It’s a testament to Mangold and his team for crafting such a tight film, where you truly see the details of everything that happened, without it ever feeling droll. You feel even more connected to these characters as the film moves on, and you want to see them succeed in the end because the film takes it’s time getting to where it needs to be.
The film is truly an excellent piece of cinema that at times dives into character study, and at times is strictly plot driven. The balance between it all makes it incredibly thrilling, fun, and just plain beautiful. The film does a great job of building everything, from the cars to the relationships to the tension. It’s a constant accelerating force that never feels as if it’s moving too fast, and in the process gives us one hell of a ride. Ford vs. Ferrari is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year, and will go down as a classic for generations to come.
Ford vs. Ferrari is currently playing in select theaters.
Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 5 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow @alex5348 on Twitter)