Ford v Ferrari: Is It Fantastic?

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Christian Bale and Matt Damon
Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles

With the Ford v Ferrari review, we have another historical period piece talking about a slice of history.  Movies like this run the gambit with their executions.  These movies can end up Oscar bait through sheer dullness, but FvF, while tackling an interesting topic, takes the story to a whole new level.  The execution on every level is magnificent.  Here is My Ford v Ferrari review.

Ford v Ferrari Review: Excellence In Execution

Another problem with movies tends to be when either the best parts or the funniest parts are in the commercials.  I normally would not have thought twice about seeing a movie like this.  I am not a racing fan, but the trailers looked good.  Christian Bale and Matt Damon looked hilarious in the commercials, but this topic does not lean towards comedy status.  FvF excels past every preconceived thought one could get from the promos.

This is no comedy, but the laughing never really stops.  Bale and Damon play off each other perfectly and create one of those friendships where everyone knows someone like that, where the two greatest friends do nothing but hate on each other – and love it.

Ford v Ferrari Review: Ready the Oscars

Christina Bale and Noah Jupe
Ken Miles coaches his son on racing

Damon plays Carroll Shelby, one of the greatest race car designers in history.  Shelby is approached by Henry Ford II, played by Tracy Letts, to revitalize the dying Ford car name.  Shelby signs on but demands his best driver/mechanic/designer drive the car when Ford challenges Ferrari at Le Mans.  Eccentric Ken Miles, played by Bale, is an over the top, loner, drive by the seat of his pants driver that hates rules. 

Bale’s portrayal of Miles really makes this movie special.  The humor, the brashness and ego keep the story alive and popping throughout, but the best part is Miles is not the typical drunk, hateful ass that usually comes from the hot shot/jock roll.  Bale does a wonderful job showing the human side of Miles, who loved his wife and kid dearly.  Both Bale and Damon should be up for Oscars for their roles.

Ford v Ferrari Review: Mangold On Fire

Director James Mangold is on fire!  Coming off movies like Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, and Logan; Mangold continues to grow his director stock.  I love how he shot this movie.  He kept the dialogue and acting brisk and engaging, but more importantly, the racing cinematography is jaw dropping.  The shots are quick and tight, flashing between barriers barely being missed, cars mere inches apart, and the rapid shifting of the drivers.  I wish this could be shown in 3D or Imax.  The shots are so convincing you feel like you are right in the middle of the race.  It demonstrates the true terror and skill needed for endurance racing.

The music was fascinating.  While listening to the music straight up, the soundtrack comes off very different and disjointed, but add in the roar of engines and cars ripping hair pin turns at high speeds and it takes on a whole new life.  The soundtrack really enhances the racing experience.

Ford V Ferrari Review: Conclusion

Ford V Ferrari is one of the best movies of the year and should have Oscar nods for Bale, Mangold and best picture (as well as cinematography), and possibly one for Damon.  I am not a racing fan, nor am I a fan of stodgy, old period pieces of men running around in suits.  FvF breaks the mold and entertains the whole time.  Even the ending surprised me, not because of something surprising, but in just the way Mangold chose to finish telling the story.  The race for the fastest car of 1966 almost becomes a backdrop.  This film should be called The Ken Miles story or The Shelby/Miles story.  The focus is on those two characters, and Damon and Bale take the roles over the top.  Racing fan or no, this film is a must.

Score: 98

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