Ford v Ferrari



17 November 2019| Comments Off on Ford v Ferrari     by Sean Chavel


The 1960’s Ford team can’t buy Enzo Ferrari’s auto enterprise? Then to show them up they got to build some hot rods that can go beyond 200 mph. James Mangold’s latest bygone era docudrama Ford v Ferrari is a crowd-pleaser with a difference, a big attitude, fast and sinuous telling of company men who dreamed of beyond quarterly expectation sales, and the race car designers and the fearless drivers who dreamed of Le Mans, that 24 hour race in France.

I am not a car racing expert, but these were the most exciting race track visuals I have yet seen. Move over “Days of Thunder” and forget you “Bobby Deerfield.” Actually the last time we got a good race car movie it was Ron Howard’s rowdy and spirited “Rush,” although every time it came up with a jaw-dropping racing visual a second or two would be lopped off too early in its editing before your eyes could truly feast on it. Ford v Ferrari has better action flow and cleaner editing.

But what’s really going to carry it as a fan favorite for years to come is the man possessed monomaniacal performance by Christian Bale who always competes his way, as well as Matt Damon who does his wisecracks as if it only beckons common sense, easily simmering the nerves of the Ford people who hired him and lowering the boom with classic Damon rope-a-dope dialogue when he’s got to insult his superiors in order to do a better job and car and competition strategy.

The Americans make it to France, and for a moment I felt slight disappointment that the film didn’t indulge in showing what Bale’s Ken Miles thought of a foreign country (he doesn’t have a chance to soak on foreign soil); it jumps into the big race rather immediately. But what a race! Mangold doesn’t compact the race at all. He lets it fire on all cylinders and lets us see, as well as feel, the speed.

Looking back at the film, Mangold cut some more corners. I really enjoyed the spunky home-life scenes of Bale with his devoted wife and son. On the contrary, you never get to know anything personal about Damon’s Carroll Shelby; it’s a two-dimensional character if that’s a thing — still, nobody does just two-dimensions better than Matt Damon.

I’ve also always wanted to know more about the legendary Ford exec Lee Iacocca, and Jon Bernthal is given plenty of early dialogue to bring the character alive… and then there’s just less dialogue as we get into the second half, he practically feels like a dropped character.

The movie ends happily in Ford’s favor before we see what kind of revolution begat Ferrari in the 70’s. As for the mercurial Ken Miles and half-drawn Carroll Shelby, it looks like it goes for a bittersweet note, but it’s really sad. And that American Ford marketing team really nearly got in the way and destroyed a natural outcome. Nevertheless, there’s hardly an American movie this year that’s this rambunctiously entertaining. I truly love it when Damon makes his Ford bosses eat sh*t (metaphorically speaking). Please sign me up for a re-watch.

152 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Grand Prix” (1966); “Bobby Deerfield” (1977); “Days of Thunder” (1990); “Rush” (2013).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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