American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary vehicle for the Ford Motor Co. Together, they plan to compete against the race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.
There’s something special about watching A-list actors give A-list performances, and that is exactly what you get from Matt Damon and Christian Bale in James Mangold’s Ford v. Ferrari. Bale is one of my favorite actors, and Damon knocks most of his roles out of the park, and together they bring a really interesting, somewhat untold story to life brilliantly on the screen.
The thing that jumps out at you the absolute most in this movie is the chemistry between Damon and Bale, who play Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles, respectively. The characters are long-time friends who have the utmost faith in each other, and Damon and Bale work together in this film as if they have known each other since they were children. What makes the chemistry even more impressive, is that this is the first time the two big-name celebrities have worked on a movie with each other.
Apart from Damon and Bale, who knock it completely out of the park, there are incredibly strong supporting performances from John Bernthal, Josh Lucas, Caitriona Balfe and child actor Noah Jupe. The way each and every character plays off of each other is awesome, as this movie really does nail a number of different types of relationships.
Ford v. Ferrari is focused on the story of Ford trying to build a car to compete with Ferrari at the 24 hours of Le Mans, and cars do play a central role, but this movie is at its best when it is exploring the more personal relationships between Miles and Shelby, Miles and his wife, and Miles and his son.
The themes of family and friendship are there throughout, with Bale turning in an absolutely phenomenal performance as a friend, husband and father. The heartwarming, real relationships that the rough-around-the-edges Miles has in this one give it personality, and really make it a great movie about more than cars.
But, let’s get to the cars. Mangold does a brilliant job of delivering an exhilarating thrill ride for the viewer, making it feel like you are almost in the car with the characters at time. The race scenes are absolutely beautifully shot, and mix together the action of the cars with the emotion of those involved in the story. This movie really is thrilling, and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you can almost feel the vibrations of the cars passing by.
This film is much more than a film about a car race. It’s a heartwarming, complete and thrilling story that is an absolute joy to watch. I expected this one to be good, but not this good. Mangold and the entire cast hit a home run with this film, that feels like it will become a favorite of Dads everywhere.