Directed by James Mangold
Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Josh Lucas, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe
Runtime: 152 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (For some language and peril)
I went in this week at a HUGE disadvantage. I’m not a car guy. I currently drive a 2007 Chevy Cobalt that I’ve had for 12 years. I do get it detailed from time to time but it needs to go. I can change tires like a champ but that’s about it. I did bring my guy Tim Wolfe (definite car guy) and Sean Dunne (not really a car guy, but I think his does have A/C). We watched Ford v Ferrari. This was a true story based on the 1966 24 Hours of Le Man. Ford Motors wanted to knock off Ferrari who was the king of Le Mans. First off, the story is FANTASTIC. Secondly, a big THANK YOU to Portsmouth Cinema. You all are always so kind and treat me great!
Onto the film.
We open with the sound of engines revving up and we hear announcers discussing what’s to come. We meet one of our films protagonists Carroll Shelby (Damon) he was the only American to win the Le Mans. Would he stay as the only one? He’s an avid racer and car enthusiast. We see a wreck and we cut to a hospital room. Ford has a heart condition that’s been discovered that won’t allow him to race anymore. We also meet another one of our protagonists Ken Miles (Bale) he comes off as the polar opposite of Shelby. He’s hot headed and brash. A British man that served in WWII. Shelby is portrayed to the audience and little more level-headed and calmer. The duo has a nice squabble about Miles potentially getting disqualified. Miles response. He throws a wrench at Shelby. What they do have in common is cars and racing. Both are the best at what they do/did.
After Shelby retires from racing, he gets into selling and helping manufacturing cars. This is where the story takes off. We learn from Lee Iacocca (Bernthal) that Ferrari is broke. He’s the VP of Ford Motors and discusses with Henry Ford II they should purchase Ferrari while times are tough. Not only does Enzo Ferrari decline, he insults the company, the buildings they manufacture in, and the workers themselves. He
also relays a message to Mr. Ford. He is NOT his father; he is Henry Ford II. Ford decides they must construct the car to beat Ferrari at Le Mans (they were champions 4 of the last 5 years) THIS IS WAR.
Iacocca enlists Carroll Shelby to help build this car. Who does Shelby want to be his driver? Ken Miles. As stated these men are opposites. Shelby is a successful businessman after racing. He drives a luxurious convertible. Miles drives a station wagon and is a failing mechanic. The IRS has locked up his business. Yet their love for the sound of an engine and their desires to be the best bring them together.
Like I said I’m not a car guy. I have in my notes, when the engine is being built. “I AM LOST.” What was great for me is it didn’t matter. The story was smooth and the acting immaculate so the details about a GT40 will enthrall car lovers, but it didn’t hurt my experience. I’ve also talked about pacing in films. This film was a long one, it clocks in over 2 and a half hours. Didn’t feel that way at all. There was humor and TENSION nonstop. From test driving the cars, to the races. I was on the edge of my seat. I didn’t know the outcomes. I thought one thing would happen, then like the sharp curves on the tracks, the film went another way and then back again. It was fun! I almost knocked the film down a star, I assumed cliché things would happen, or cliché monologues would happen. I was wrong. The acting as I said was superb. Both Damon and Bale shine in their roles and I believe Bale will AT LEAST be nominated for an Academy Award. The supporting cast all work as well. From Iacocca (Bernthal) to the “evil” Leo Beebe (Lucas) it works. A special note should be said about Miles wife Mollie (Baife) She was supportive throughout and their chemistry and love for each other was impossible to not pick up on. It added a soft touch the film in the right moments, when we got a lot of grease and gasoline. If I had to give ONE complaint, and I’m trying to pick something. I’d say at times the racing seemed a TAD off. Maybe CGI? I honestly couldn’t tell because it was relatively seamless.
In this film, its audience consisted of three men (Wolfe, Dunne, and Myself) each with varying interests in the subjects. We all left having enjoyed it. Boys Night out! Back to reality as we all piled in the 07 Cobalt afterwards. Tim Wolfe said it best, “Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. Two men whose efforts pushed a three-thousand-pound machine to the point of weightlessness. The gravity of those efforts changed the racing world forever. This movie is a must see for race fans and car enthusiasts alike.” I’ll add from neither a race fan or car enthusiast. I couldn’t agree more. GO SEE THIS FILM! 5 stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-981-9158