Ford vs Ferrari


What’s not to like? The story of an American in a cowboy hat tweaking the nose of the uppity Europeans.

In this case, it is Texan Carroll Shelby aided by the might of Henry Ford II against Enzo Ferrari and his blistering record of successful automobile racing victories.

But the story really revolves around British-born driver Ken Miles, superbly played by Christian Bale. Bale is a hot shot road racer, who takes shit from no one. While letting his car repair garage get locked up by the IRS, Shelby (a well-cast Matt Damon) is casting about for his next chapter after being the first American to win France’s notorious 24 hours of Le Mans. A heart condition keeps Shelby out of fourth and fifth gear.

Meanwhile, in Detroit a brash Lee Iacocca tries to convince his fellow Ford executives to leverage the launch of the Mustang by taking down the seemingly invincible Ferrari domination at Le Mans.

A look inside the film here.

In a series of vignettes, Iacocca convinces Ford and Shelby convinces Miles.

The cinematography is stunning, and apparently none of it relied on CG effects. In the build up to the big race, the scrappy Shelby team is hobbled by the shortsightedness of the Ford corporate monolith. Is there a better actor who has also won a Pulitzer Prize? Hats off to Tracy Letts; his portrayal of Henry Ford II is superb.

Miles is not only at the crux of the internecine battles around racing, his family life is explored. A supportive wife and a wide-eyed son bring out the human side of Miles.

But the tension of the 24 hour race in France is maintained admirably.

Anyone of a certain age will point to the Ford GT40 as the quintessential race car. Many models pepper the film, it is supreme eye candy.

Director James Mangold does a fine job keeping the story on track, from a script by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.