Ford V Ferrari
Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts, Noah Jupe, Josh Lucas, Ray McKinnon
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…an exceptionally fun, funny and heart-pulsing ride from first flag to last.
The writer/director of Logan, one of the biggest steps forward for the superhero genre, has now come out with a period sports drama set around the endurance sports car race, 24 Hours Of Le Mans. Insert pun about sudden shift in gear here.
Even for the uninitiated in the sport, Ford v Ferrari sure makes car racing look as thrilling as possible. The tight camera work from Phedon Papamichael (who worked with Mangold on Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma), the pinpoint editing from Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland that keeps the audience right in front of the action, not to mention Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders’ thrumming rock compositions laced underneath it all; there’s a lot of technical precision at work here, and the film looks all the better because of it.
Not that rev heads will get all the fun; the writing and performances on display leave plenty for everyone else too. Christian Bale and Matt Damon as the two central characters tying the typical rising phoenix underdog together could easily hold this entire film on their own, absolutely nailing their dialogue and letting the punchlines and snide remarks roll off their tongues.
Tracy Letts, as Henry Ford Jr., himself is no slouch either, in one of his best performances to date as the egotistical and quite literally driven linchpin for the titular vehicular conflict. Josh Lucas, as yet another walking arsecandle of a human being, shows why his typecasting still makes sense after all these years, and Noah Jupe as Bale’s son adds a lot to the heart of the main story.
There may be a fair amount of puffed-out chest to cleave through to get to that heart though, as the depictions of American exceptionalism and unbridled ego across the board make for a surprisingly refreshing aesthetic, a return to the steadfast confidence and lack of self-consciousness of more classic American cinema. It basically does for modern sports film what The Nice Guys did for modern buddy cop flick.
As understandable as it may be for this level of machine-aided machismo to turn off some viewers, the strength of its gasoline-laced liquor is just so potent that it’s hard not to get swept up in it all. That, and the emotional wavelengths shown here – especially through Bale’s Ken Miles and how much of his heart and will is devoted to this sport – keep things grounded where needed.
Whether you live for the thrill of burning rubber and dented metal, or you’re just looking for another good night out at the movies, Ford v Ferrari makes for an exceptionally fun, funny and heart-pulsing ride from first flag to last.