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When a friend invited Greg and me to see the film Ford v Ferrari with him, I happily agreed. I’m not all that into cars. However, my dad used to own a race car and I’m a fan of Christian Bale AND Matt Damon. Plus, I loved the 2013 movie Rush about the rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. I knew enough to know that Ford v Ferrari is not just a movie about racing cars. It’s a story about friendship and perseverance and being who you are, which is precisely my kind of movie.
Enjoy this review of Ford v Ferrari. Mild spoilers about the story included, without giving away the ending.
Ford v Ferrari Cast
This biographical drama stars Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe, Noah Jupe, Tracy Letts, Remo Girone, Josh Lucas and Ben Bernthal. Ford v Ferrari is directed by James Mangold. The film carries a PG-13 rating, for moderate language, and has a run time of 2 hours and 32 minutes.
Professional racer Carroll Shelby (Damon) is forced into an early retirement due to a heart condition. He becomes a car salesman, however he stays active in the racing community. His friend, Ken Miles (Bales), is an extraordinary driver and car mechanic. But his reactionary tendency to tell-it-like-it-is causes most people to keep their distance. Ken runs his own mechanic shop to support his wife Mollie (Balfe) and son Peter (Jupe). His heart, however, longs to race…the faster the better.
At Ford Motors, sales are down. Henry Ford II (Letts) gathers his staff for a brainstorming session. One of his underlings, Lee Iacocca (Bernthal) pitches an idea. He suggests that race cars, like the Italian made Ferrari, are the sexiest cars. If Ford could compete and win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France, it would change the future of the company.
Initially Ford attempts to buy the struggling Ferrari company, with Enzo Ferrari (Girone) retaining control of the racing division. When Ferrari refuses the offer, and insults Ford in the process, Henry Ford decides to start his own racing division.
Lee Iacocca approaches Shelby, the only American to ever win at Le Mans, to head up designing and testing cars for the new Ford racing division. Shelby agrees and immediately recruits his friend Ken Miles, the best driver he knows.
The Ford Racing Division
As the first race arrives, bringing the opportunity to try out the modified car, Ford vice president Leo Bebee (Lucas) pulls Shelby aside. Miles’ unpredictable behavior concerns him. Bebee fears Miles won’t represent the company well. Against Shelby’s advice, Bebee replaces Miles with another driver. Ford loses the race.
Ken Miles rejoins the team, at Shelby’s insistence, however Bebee constantly seeks to block him as a driver. In a gutsy move, Shelby puts Ford into one of the cars and shows him the power and danger involved, driving a race car. The ploy works. Shelby persuades Henry Ford II to allow Miles to drive. It’s the only way they have a chance of winning the Le Mans.
Shelby and Miles and their team work long hours perfecting the car, before the big race. Ford agrees to let Miles drive in Le Mans, if he wins the Daytona. Against tough competition and a second Ford car entered by Bebee, Miles secures the win…and the chance to race at Le Mans.
Both Ford and Ferrari attend the race in France. It’s a grueling 24 hours of racing that includes nighttime driving and rainy weather. Ferrari typically wins the race. Ford places three cars in the competition, with Miles driving one. Bebee attends the race as well and he’s determined to see Miles fail.
It’s the race of a lifetime, with high stakes and even higher personal ambitions and desires on the line. It truly is Ford v Ferrari. Who will win?
My Thoughts on Ford v Ferrari
I loved this film. My dad came to mind often, as he loved the whole racing scene. Beyond the thrill of watching the intense race scenes and learning a great deal about building a better car, I enjoyed the friendship portrayed between Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles.
I can’t say enough good things about the actors playing those roles. The onscreen chemistry between them was authentic. Matt Damon possesses the ability to take on any role and bring his natural charm to the part. And Christian Bale! From gaining weight to play Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice, to losing 70 pounds to play Ken Miles, Bale gives his all to a performance. He even took race driving lessons at the Bondurant High Performance Driving School. Truthfully, Bale dominates this film, in a very good way. I adored Ken Miles and his ability to remain true to who he was, even when others sought to change him or dismiss him.
Ford v Ferrari is an excellent movie about the best things in life…doing what you love, being who you are and traveling through life with good people by your side. When you get to take part of the journey in cars that can reach speeds of 200+ MPH, well that just sweetens the experience for some!
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