The pouts and sunglasses on the poster don’t do this film justice, but importantly the image of Matt Damon and Christian Bale underpins Ford V Ferrari because this is so much more than a film that is just about a car race. It’s about the volatility of men, the bitterness of disappointment, the corporate meddling of marketers, the joy of victory and the risk and gambling people take to chance a win, and yes, it is about a car race.
Specifically the Le Mans 24 hour race in the mid 1960s, where stodgy American car manufacturer Ford is brashly looking to take on the reigning champions of speed and style Ferrari.
Christian Bale (as his classic grumpy English self) plays Ken Miles, a British racer whose unorthodox manner sees opportunities fall by the wayside, as potential sponsors steer clear of associating with him due to an unpredictable temper. In an early scene he throws a spanner at his car, and cracks the windscreen, before shrugging his shoulders, jumping in the car and going on to win that race. What happens to the spanner, you’ll have to see the film to find out.
Matt Damon (channelling the vocal refrains of Tommy Lee Jones) is Carroll Shelby, a legend in the world of motorsport who knows how talented Miles is, and wants to collaborate on a joint venture when the Ford Motor Company decide that the way to sell new cars to cashed up baby boomers is to win at Le Mans, the home of legendary speed machines handmade by Ferrari.
From director James Mangold whose earlier takes on American underdogs include Johnny Cash (Walk the Line) and Wolverine (Logan), this is a truly engrossing, sensational piece of film-making to be enjoyed on the big screen with quality speakers.
Like a gigantic F.U. to streaming (despite the fact that it will undoubtedly head to Disney+ at some point as part of the Fox merger) this feels made to see at the movies. You can spend your money knowing it is a winner and one of the best film of the year.
5 Stars – “A Winner. One of the Best Films of the Year”.