Ford v Ferrari Movie Review
Christian Bale and Matt Damon star in director James Mangold’s action biopic, ‘Ford v Ferrari.’

Title: ‘Ford v Ferrari’

Director: James Mangold

Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts and Josh Lucas

The sincere allies that athletes and business people make while they gear up for competition are just as important as their physical abilities when they set out to defeat their rivals. That vital journey of securing sincere partners in their journey to win is presented in the new action biopic, ‘Ford v Ferrari,’ which Twentieth Century Fox is releasing in theaters today.

The movie is based on the true story of the determined team of American car engineers and designers who strived to win the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The sports drama, which was directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, James Mangold (‘Logan,’ ‘Walk the Line,’ ‘Girl, Interrupted’) is a emotionally and visually riveting exploration into the way that both relationships and talent drive success.

‘Ford v Ferrari’ follows two friends, Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles (Matt Damon and Christian Bale), who partnered with the Ford Motor Co. to win Le Mans, the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, which is held annually near the town of Le Mans, France. The Ford company is hoping to beat Italian sportscar designer Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone), who has won many the races in the then-recent history.

Shelby previously defeated Ferrari once before, when he won Le Mans in 1959, as he drove an Aston Martin. But soon after, he retired from driving, due to health reasons, and formed his own car company, Shelby American. So he decided to team with Miles, a colleague of his who’s the best driver, to develop and commandeer a car with Ford that would defeat Ferrari, who decided to turn down a recent merger idea that the Ford company presented to him. While Miles is considered to be an unpredictable wild card by Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) and his management team, including Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas) and Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), Shelby insists that the former tank commander for the British army during World War II is the best person to race for Ford during Le Mans.

While Shelby and Miles contend with struggles leading up to, and during, Le Mans, including Ford and his team questioning Miles’ unpredictable behavior, as well him being forced to close the garage that he runs with his wife, Mollie (Caitriona Balfe), the racing duo refuses to give up their determination to win. Despite the difference that Shelby and Miles are forced to contend with as they work with Ford and his team, they learn to work together to achieve their shared goal of winning one of the world’s most acclaimed car races.

Mangold and the three screenwriters who worked on crafting the story behind ‘Ford v Ferrari’-Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller-alluringly immerse viewers into the high-pressure world of professional car racing. While the actual Le Mans race isn’t shown in the third act of the biopic, the intensity between Shelby and Miles against the leaders at Ford over the best way to craft a winning car prevails throughout the entire story.

While the title of the action film suggest that the conflict solely lays between the two car companies, the really intriguing clash arises between Ford and Beebe against Shelby and Miles. While they’re all striving to prove they’re just as worthy as their competitor on the race track, the Ford team is unable to cease their struggles amongst each other over who they feel has the best ideas and strategies.

Damon and Bale are particularly noteworthy in their performances as Shelby and Miles, as they sincerely immerse themselves in the determined, motivated characters they play. The Oscar-winning actors’ engaging dedication to their portrayals of their motivated characters, which are driven by equal amounts of emotional sincerity, seriousness and wit, infuse the drama with a motivational and powerful message that anything is possible when people, even of different backgrounds, work together.

Not only do the emotional performances from the actors help drive ‘Ford v Ferrari’ to a big win at the finish line, but so do the visual aspects of the action film. From the hypnotic cinematography by Phedon Papamichael, who makes the audience members feel as though they’re actually witnessing the car races in real life, to the true-to-life production design by Fran├žois Audouy, who crafted an authentic setting from the 1960s, and the visual and special effects and stunt teams that brought the races to life, the biopic is an observable delight.

‘Ford v Ferrari’ is an equally intense emotional and visual story that thrives on the authentic relationships between the actors, particularly Damon and Bale, who effortlessly brought the friendship between Shelby and Miles to the screen. The increasing intensity that Shelby and Miles feel with the leaders at Ford over the best way to craft a winning car for Le Mans are perfectly interwove with the visual aspects of the story, including the mesmerizing cinematography, visual and special effects, and stunts make the feature an emotionally engaging action sports biopic that’s sure to make history in the genre as it races into theaters this weekend.

Technical: A

Acting: A-

Story: B+

Overall: A-

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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