In the early 1960s Ferrari dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Ford v. Ferrari sees two of the best actors working today, Christian Bale and Matt Damon, team with director James Mangold to detail Ford’s determination to build a car to win the race and finally defeat the Italian powerhouse.
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Much like the race itself, Ford v. Ferrari is an endurance event. It’s long and deliberately paced but gives its star performers plenty of time to shine. Matt Damon, despite having a number of misses since 2015’s The Martian, is always great to see on screen and is fantastic here as Carroll Shelby. He also has really good chemistry with his co-star Christian Bale, who turns in a great performance himself as racecar driver Ken Miles.
Despite being a pretty big racing fan, the story of the 1966 race at Le Mans is not one that I was familiar with. With that said, this movie locked me in and had me interested in the story the whole time. While parts do feel overdramatized, particularly is moments with Ken Miles’ family, it does an otherwise good job of portraying the event. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is probably the toughest race in existence, both on cars and drivers, and that comes through in this movie. In fact, the parts of the movie that should be the least exciting, such as the building and testing of the car, are actually some of the most entertaining.
That is not to say the racing scenes aren’t good. On the contrary, actually. They are reminiscent of 2013’s Rush in how the mix of visual effects, practical effects, and strong acting bring a race that occurred 53 years ago to life. A rousing score also helps the audience feel both the emotion and the intensity as the race goes on.
Besides the movie being about 20 minutes too long and moments being unnecessarily overdramatized, it’s hard to find a lot wrong with the movie. It sets out to be a straightforward crowd-pleaser about the famous event and accomplishes exactly that. Strong directing from Mangold and great performances from Damon and Bale are the icing on the cake. I’d recommend this movie to pretty much anyone, racing fan or not.
Ford v. Ferrari earns a Golden Donut.
Ratings from low to high: Felony, Misdemeanor, 10-4, Positive ROP, Golden Donut