Friday, November 15, 2019

Ford v Ferrari - Review

The world of racing is sort of baffling from an outsider perspective. On one hand, you have the perpetual left turns during a NASCAR race, followed by devoted domestic fans who watch for the crashes more than anything. On the other, you have the respected world of racing, the winding tracks of Europe that provide as treacherous an event as you might find across the globe. Ford v Ferrari plays in that world, specifically the world of the 24 House of Le Mans in 1966, and the mission of a few men to take down the dominant Ferrari.

American automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary vehicle for the Ford Motor Co. Together, they plan to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

In an age of blockbusters and franchises, the $100 million adult drama is seemingly dying off or going to TV instead. Ford v Ferrari is here to make an argument for the value of a movie theater experience of a well-constructed, compelling adult drama. The racing scenes certainly help, they’re fast, intense, and shot remarkably well, demanding the biggest screen you can find rather than a 65” TV from your couch.

The drama doesn’t end at the checkered flag though, as the story of the film is actually inherently fascinating as well. Starting with a company, and a large, successful company at that, looking to improve their sales numbers through marketing and getting to a place of innovation and invention is an interesting leap to make, but Ford v Ferrari gets there. The Ford Company is not completely held up on pedestal, even if there is some America first and Pro-USA tones sprinkled in, but this is ultimately a marketing ploy that just happens to let some determined men build a really fast car and drive against other really fast cars.
Those men are played by Matt Damon and Christian Bale, two actors who are more than capable of leading a film on their own, but benefit from actually sharing this screen. Bale gets the opportunity to be charming and funny, a rare occurrence with his roles lately, and absolutely runs with it. Damon gets less to work with in terms of character, but he plays it with a sense of yearning and pain in his eye all the same. The two share remarkable chemistry and the friendship they have, however hostile it may seem, is believable. While the film may draw crowds for the high-octane races, they’ll stay for the performances from these two.

Ford v Ferrari may be a last ditch effort to save the idea of mid budget movies, and it puts in quite an effort. If people seek it out, they’ll be rewarded with a film that moves with a brisk pace, hardly feeling like the two and half hours that it actually is, and a thrilling, funny experience overall. The intensity and action is there for the individuals who want more than just the drama, the sound itself will punch you in the face, let alone the addition of the visuals as well. Just be careful when you leave the theater, Ford v Ferrari will make just about anyone want to step on the gas.

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