Watching James Mangold’s Ford Vs Ferrari is one spectacular experience on many levels. The adrenalin rush of hearing the revs of those beasty muscular automobiles, the passion of the characters in the movie towards vehicles and racing, the determination and struggle to achieve the desired result, etc makes Ford Vs Ferrari one extremely satisfying cinema viewing experience that sort of puts you in the middle of the action.
The movie is set in the ’60s. When a review meeting about the sales of ford cars was called, vice president Lee Iacocca proposes the idea of entering into the world of racing to be an appealing brand by making a deal with Ferrari. Henry Ford ll was willing to strike the deal, but Ferrari backing out of it led to Ford making an angry decision of asking his team to build a car that could beat the Ferrari in Le Mans. For Carroll Shelby and his driver Ken Miles, getting the required approval from everyone above them at Ford to make the car the way they wanted wasn’t an easy process. And the film Ford Vs Ferrari is showing us this journey of these two which eventually lead to the creation of Ford GT40.
When based on true story movies happen, especially if it is a sports drama, there is a tendency to end the movie with a simple tactic of showing the victory of the hero. Here, but that formula gets overshadowed by the passion of the two main protagonists. When Miles breaks the lap record towards the end in Le Mans, there is a moment of calmness and self-discovery in him which was not shown till that point. Even if you are not someone who enjoys driving, Mangold manages to make that scene work for almost everyone. It was actually moments like those that happen discretely in this film that made it a movie with a heart rather than a movie that showed multiple racing sequences in a template sports drama script.
Christian Bale is terrific as Ken Miles. The eccentricity, the roughness and the very rarely shown vulnerability of Miles were portrayed spectacularly by him. That final lap sequence was so emotionally affecting and he wasn’t overdoing in terms of acting to show that emotional high of Ken Miles. Matt Damon doesn’t really require himself to transform drastically to be Shelby. But there are moments of anxiety, responsibility, and camaraderie in the character’s journey which he pulled off very neatly. Josh Lucas was able to portray Leo Beebe as an egoistic Ford executive. Tracy Letts as Ford ll was really sharp and the entire theater laughed out loud for his reaction when he sat in that car for the first time. Caitriona Balfe was memorable as the understanding wife Mollie and Noah Jupe had that innocence and excitement in knowing more about his father’s racing DNA.
The script of the movie is written by Jezz Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller. The trio is giving us a feel of the business in an extremely refreshing way. There is a determination in the eyes of characters like Ken Miles, Carroll Shelby and Ford ll which gets translated very effectively. James Mangold captures the events without any compromises in terms of visual authenticity. The vibe of the ‘60s, those racing cars, the television broadcasting, etc. are done so meticulously that you won’t feel any lack of authenticity in the content. The scene where Miles beats the other driver and the edits effectively used the sound of the revs in a very rhythmic way was a really fascinating slice of filmmaking. The cinematography by Phedon Papamichael captures the emotional arc of these characters wonderfully and his visuals put us right in the middle of all the action. The visual effects of this movie are brilliant. The background score is really uplifting the film. The movie really takes you to an emotional ride and that 7000 RPM dialogue will sort of haunt you forever.
The Oscar campaigns have already begun and I won’t be surprised if this movie manages to grab some of those statuettes. This is a story based on real-life incidents and it is one of those believable and nicely layered movies that will make you stay with the characters for a long time after completing watching the film. Ford Vs Ferrari is one exhilarating experience you shouldn’t skip.
This is a story based on real-life incidents and it is one of those believable and nicely layered movies that will make you stay with the characters for a long time after completing watching the film
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended