Monday, November 18, 2019

Ford v Ferrari, 2019 - ★★★★★

James Mangold is on a nice streak of films coming off Logan (the best X Men movie) a couple years ago. With Ford v Ferrari he gives us an inside seat within the Ford racing team in their efforts to surpass Ferrari and become the top racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France in 1966. The chief players in this film are Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the legendary race car designer, Ken Miles (Christian Bale, absolutely killing another performance), an English endurance auto racer, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts), the head of Ford Motors, Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), VP of Ford Motors and Leo Beebe (a dick-ish Josh Lucas) Senior Executive VP of Ford Motors. The cast all plays off one another beautifully in re-telling the true story of Ford's rise to respectability in the auto-racing world and Mangold drives the truck full-bore by delivering some of the best and most immersive auto racing footage in film history.

Thankfully I was able to see this movie at my local Dolby Cinema AMC theater. These theaters have seats that vibrate along with the sound of the film you're watching so I really did feel that I was along for the ride during all of the race sequences. The final 50-minute sequence at Le Mans is really worth the price of admission alone. I'm somewhat of a life-long auto racing fan (NASCAR and Indy) but I've never watched Le Mans before and now I feel like I actually lived the race. Mangold brings us details and intricacies of each race that aren't glossed over in showy highlights like we would see in other racing films. We get to see real team strategy and decision-making both on and off the track.

The real glue of this film lies in the chemistry between Damon's Shelby and Bale's Miles, two hard headed determined individuals who compliment each other perfectly in forming a powerful racing team. Bale is amazing as Miles, you really share his joy for speed as he talks to himself during his races. There's a little bit of his "The Fighter" character in Ken Miles but he makes it his own creation by showing his devotion to his wife and son and making him a figure you root strongly for throughout the movie. Damon gives another every-man performance that is highlighted by an emotional scene with Miles' son towards the end of the film.

I walked out of this theater feeling like I just raced 24 hours at Le Mans and I enjoyed every single minute of the ride. I can't recommend it enough to see this movie on the largest, loudest screen possible. Mangold (admittedly not a car-racing fan) took 60's endurance racing and made a cinematic showcase of a film that stands out in a year of constant sequels and reboots.

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