Shelby and Miles face an increasing number of obstacles with the construction and design of their race car, the Ford executives, and between themselves. Ken foregoes the use of Ford performance computers to tweak the car based solely on how it feels and other analog measuring devices. He also suggests innovations in engineering that pushes the racing rulebook a little. Ken’s gruff attitude is also not popular with Beebe as he makes several attempts to have Miles either fired or banned from driving. Finally, there’s Shelby, who has to manage his team to victory, while towing the Ford company line—no matter what wrong decisions the company makes.
As a film for the masses, Ford v Ferrari knows precisely what it is. It’s a sports drama based around auto racing. It makes no attempt to attract anyone other than sports fans, and it succeeds. It’s all there: a good underdog story, lots of fantastic racing footage (both real and fake), and ample amounts of testosterone coursing through every frame. It’s a film for men, by mostly men, and stars mostly men except for one female speaking role in Mollie Miles (Caitriona Balfe). Are movies like this still allowed to be made?
“…a good underdog story, lots of fantastic racing footage (both real and fake), and ample amounts of testosterone…”
I’m not a huge racing fan, and director Mangold offers enough explaining and exposition to understand the technical aspects of auto racing. At one point, Ken Miles’ son, Peter (Noah Jupe), draws a map of the Le Mans racetrack, so we know where the action is in relation to the race segments. Also, Miles spends a lot of time behind the wheel, and you never feel lost as he thinks through the problems and tweaks that need to be made on the car.
Ultimately, Ford v Ferrari is the story of two men with the desire to win. Their obstacles not only includes their competition but the corporate challenges placed in front of them like money and the flocks of executives paid to say “No.” In regards to acting performances, I couldn’t help but think that both Matt Damon and Christian Bale are overqualified in these roles, but damn, they do such a good job. Damon transforms himself into a physically worn former driver, and Bale stretches his acting muscle playing a hot-headed, quick-tempered, narcissist. You’re going to watch Ford v Ferrari for the action, underdog story, and more-than-competent cast. Mangold also has the tone and pace of the film down perfectly. I would watch Ford v Ferrari over and over again.
"…a driver that understands cars, its engineering, and how to push a vehicle to its limits..."