FORD V FERRARI


Subject matter definitely plays a huge part into what movies people choose to watch and that makes sense. Why would you try to get invested in something, or entertain yourself, if you’re not interested in it? You already don’t care and you’re not going to anytime soon. However, that doesn’t make the movie itself bad. Sometimes they’re excellent films. So excellent, in fact, that the subject matter simply doesn’t matter at all. 
 
In 1963, the Ford Motor Company isn’t doing too well financially, and from the suggestion of Vice President Lee Iacocca (John Bernthal), Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) attempts to buy the Ferrari company, so they can have faster cars. Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) refuses the deal and plans to win the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans Race for the fifth year in a row. Desperate not to lose again and retain his pride, Ford II enlists skilled automotive designer and engineer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) to design a much faster and more aggressive Ford car. It’s not just about the car, though, but the person behind the wheel, so Shelby recruits highly skilled driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to bring Ford to first place in the finish line. Looks like it’s Ford v Ferrari.

I’m not a car guy. Or a racing guy. At all. I really just have no interest in it. I get the appeal of watching cars go fast and the technical aspects of the vehicles, but it’s just not for me. I do like good movies, though, and no matter the subject matter, a good movie is a good movie. Ford v Ferrari just isn’t about these two competing automobile manufacturers, but a close friendship between two people who couldn’t be more different, but that one thing bonds them: cars. Many people seem to almost fetishize cars and get a huge high from driving insane speeds, and director James Mangold and screenwriters Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller perfectly put you into that mindset. There’s a wonderful moment where Miles and his son Peter (Noah Jupe) sit on the racetrack, staring at the sunset. Miles gives a monologue about how you feel when you’re racing, basically being transported into another world where you’re free and have complete control. It’s not without its cheese, with a corny monologue from Matt Damon narrating about how racers live their lives at “5,000 RPM”, but this is a far more thoughtful exploration into car culture than The Fast and Furious films, but that’s unfair, considering those are striving for something completely different. Still, I appreciate the filmmakers getting me so deeply into the character’s mindsets and making me invested in their story. 
 
If you really look at the story, it really is just about two greedy people with gigantic egos trying to prove which of their cars is faster. That’s what the true story is about too: Ford trying to beat Ferarri. It’s all incredibly petty and the film totally shows it. Both Ford and Ferrari, just like in real life, are gigantic assholes in this film. Ferrari, in particular, has one of the scorching burns of all time when he says, “Henry Ford is not his father, but Henry Ford the second.” Ferrari doesn’t really have as much screentime, but there is a decent amount of time we spend with Ford II, which humanizes him a bit. The story this is based off may be about cars, but, like I said, the story in this movie is all about the friendship between Shelby and Miles. For the emotional core of the story, it definitely works, but there are times where it falls into your typical “true story” movie traps. Because a large aspect of the film is focused on the racing and designing of the new car, some of their friendship doesn’t feel developed enough. You can feel their comradery, but don’t know too much about their background. Their characters have depth, but I felt their friendship needed a bit more context. It’s all elevated by Matt Damon and especially Christian Bale, giving quite possibly the best performance of his career. His character is obnoxious and over the top, but also hilarious with the insane stuff he says and complete lack of social skills. Damon’s more understated in his performance and provides a necessary contrast to Bale’s more explosive nature. We also have an excellent supporting cast with John Bernthal, Josh Lucas, and an impeccably cast Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II. 
 
This is a film about racing cars, so you bet the racing better be good, and this is the most exhilarating racing I’ve seen in a film to date. You feel like you’re in the car with the racers going 180+ MPH and whipping around turns and opponents. It’s one of those films that’s a technical feat, where you can really feel the hard work that went into making us feel we’re right there in the race. You can feel every impact of the crashes, especially from the scenes inside the car, where you see the driver abruptly fly around. I think there was some CGI here and there, but the crashes are spectacular, nonetheless. As expected, you hope the film is loud, and boy it is. You can almost feel the rumble of the engine coming from the speakers. It’s all expertly mixed, with the sounds of roaring engines and screeching tires never drowning out the dialogue or background noise. It’s all gorgeous too, with wide, beautiful shots of racetracks and the cars feel larger than life. It’s certainly a film that demands to be seen in a theater, or at least a very expensive entertainment system. A good movie is good because of its story, obviously, but to get the full experience the filmmakers want, you need it to be big and loud. When the movie isn’t about all the racing and Shelby and Miles’ relationship, you have numerous scenes of a bunch of snobby businessmen talking over each other, or Miles spending time with his family. Whenever the film slowed down, it was still engrossing and had an energy to it, and for a 151-minute runtime, I never felt the length until the very last twenty minutes. 
 
Ford v Ferrari is certainly one of the biggest surprises of the year, as I could not care less for the subject matter. However, it just goes to show how much an amazing cast, strong direction, superb technical aspects, and a respect for history and source material goes into making an exciting movie experience. The story itself may not interest you, but when it’s brought to life in such rousing way such as this, why not take the trip? 
 
8.5/10 

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