I initially had reservations when I was invited to watch Ford v. Ferrari. I’m not a fan of racing, or even cars, so I wondered if I would enjoy this movie. Sure, it had Christian Bale and Matt Damon, but would that be enough to hold my attention, since it’s a two and a half hour movie? It turns out it did more than just hold my attention. The film gripped it the entire time, never letting it go. I was safely ensconced in the theater but I felt like I was in the passenger seat. That’s how much I enjoyed it, even if I know nothing about cars.
Ford v. Ferrari revolves around the real-life story of the 24-hour Le Mans race in France in 1966. Racer and automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) is tasked by Ford CEO Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) and vice president Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) to create a car that can beat Ferrari. The Italian car manufacturer has won the annual race in 1958 and every year from 1960 to 1965. Shelby seeks the help of Ken Miles (Bale), a polarizing yet brilliant racer who knows the science of the art.
It comes as no surprise that the film is high-octane entertainment. The race sequences are excellent and got my heart racing. While it’s tempting to go the flashy route by showing off the racecars of both Ford and Ferrari, the film delves deeper and focuses on the complex details of Shelby and Miles’ story. I also found myself extremely invested in the story even if I couldn’t follow the technical stuff. It seems like I wasn’t alone, as several members of the audience were clapping to key scenes.
Damon is fun to watch as the Southern Shelby but it’s Bale that truly stands out. The actor is known for fully transforming himself with every part and he commits to Ford v. Ferrari, consuming the role of a confident driver who lives in his own world and does things his own way. His tenacity may come across as cocky but Bale adds nuances of heart and emotion into it.
Ford v. Ferrari may be a story about racing but it’s definitely so much more than that. It’s a story about hard work, friendship, and the power of a good vehicle. It’s a great watch for me.