Ford v Ferrari
Ford v Ferrari (known as Le Mans '66 in some European countries) is a 2019 Motorsports/drama film directed by James Mangold and written by Jon & Jason-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller. It was distributed by 20th Century Fox, and stars Christian Bale and Matt Damon.
The film is based on the famous rivalry between automotive giants Ford and Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In 1963, facing major hardships in maintaining operation costs, Lee Iacocca (Lee Bernthal) approaches the CEO of the Ford Motor Company CEO, Henry Ford II (Tracey Letts) with a business proposal: to purchase the financially struggling Ferrari, with the hope of competing at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in order to boost the sales of their cars. Unfortunately for Ford, Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) turns down their offer when Fiat makes a more lucrative deal. Enraged by personal insults thrown at him by Ferrari, Ford orders his best designers and engineers to build him a racing car that will crush Ferrari at the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ford enlists the help of legendary racing driver Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), who won the prestigious race in 1959, to assist in designing the winning car: the GT40. Although initially plagued with reliability issues, Shelby calls upon the hot-headed British racer, Ken Miles (Christian Bale), to not only help with testing the car, but also assist with mechanical optimisations to overcome the Mk I's reliability issues that plagued it in the 1964 and 1965 seasons.
Why It Rocks
- Stellar acting performances from the whole cast, particularly from the two leads, Matt Damon and Christian Bale.
- While the racing itself isn't necessarily the main focus of the film, the racing sequences are shot brilliantly with some top-notch cinematography. CGI is used to make the Circuit de la Sarthe look more period-accurate for 1966, but one would not even notice it.
- The film is incredibly faithful to the event upon which it is based; it feels like a modern telling of a historical event, even getting many minor details right, including the GT40's reliability issues when it debuted, and Shelby's reason for retiring early.
- Damon and Bale have great on-screen chemistry, allowing their characters to be fleshed out quite nicely.
- There are a handful of funny scenes here and there; most notably, the street fight between Shelby and Miles.
- The characters are all believable, thanks to the strong performances. In particular, Enzo Ferrari is portrayed as the sympathetic leader compared to the company meddling in their own team's affairs.
- Because of their chemistry, Damon & Bale's characters are a formidable duo, as their racing backgrounds allow them to iron out mechanical shortcomings that may hamper their performance. Even if the two butt heads now and then, they have each other's backs.
- Visually, the film is a beauty to look at, with many bright colors and vivid lighting, thanks to Phedon Papamichael's cinematography, and James Mangold's directing.
- The racing sequences can be rather gripping at times, often leaving the viewer on the edge of their seats.
- The film stays clear of injecting politics into the script, clearly prioritizing story over agenda.
- Aside from a few licensed tracks, Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders' score is pretty good also.
- The central conflict between Shelby & Miles and the Ford higher-ups can be just as involving as the racing itself. The theme of executive meddling is what takes the center stage, with higher-ups at Ford taking every opportunity to sabotage the protagonists, making way for some good storytelling.
- There is a fine balance of drama on and off the track, with one never overshadowing the other, so it can appeal to racing fans and non-racing fans alike.
Ford v Ferrari received universal acclaim from critics, and film-goers alike. The film has a 92% critic rating and a 98% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an 81/100 on Metacritic, and an 8.2/10 on IMDB. Chris Stuckman gave the film an A grade, calling it " a crowd pleaser", a term he is often hesitant to use, praising the acting from the two leads, the racing scenes, and the human drama. The film was also a box office success, raking in over $225 million worldwide (against a $97.6 million budget), and won several awards.
- The film was originally going to cast Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as the main characters, but plans for this never materialized.
- Professional driver, Alex Gurney, makes an appearance in this film, playing his late father, Dan Gurney.
- The closing text before the credits states that the Ford GT40 remains the only American built car to win at Le Mans.
- At one point during the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona race leading up to Le Mans, Shelby encourages Miles to push the GT40 beyond 7,000rpm by holding up a placard that reads: "7000+, Go Like Hell!" "Go Like Hell was this film working title during production.
- The Shelby brand is best known for the "Shelby Cobra 427/c", a muscle car that launched in 1966.