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Ford v Ferrari – Movie Review

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Ford v Ferrari – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Auto racing is a sport that seems to lend itself to cinema exceptionally well, as the roaring sounds of the motors and the way the cars go at top speed provides plenty of opportunity for thrills and are perfectly suited for the big screen experience. In mounting Ford v Ferrari, director James Mangold understands this and recreates the 1966 Le Mans race in a way that’s exhilarating. The true-life story of the people behind Ford’s entry into the race is also done to great effect, showing the large egos and personalities that led to innovation in the automobile industry. Through its two-and-a-half hour runtime, Ford v Ferrari rushes by with one stand-out sequence after another.

At the centre of Ford v Ferrari are the two car experts Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. The film properly establishes their knowledge and willingness to make sure the vehicles they work on are of the highest quality. Outside of the race track, some of the best scenes come from their conversations with one another, as they deal with their own egos and the Ford executives bankrolling this plan to beat Ferrari in Le Mans. While he has a smaller role, Lee Iacocca has his own entertaining arc as he tries to push the future on Henry Ford II, who is stuck in the past.

Ford v Ferrari is partly about innovation and the incredible minds of these three individuals who pushed to make the cars faster and better. However, it’s also about the way men always feel the need to compete and prove they are the best and smartest in the room. It is funny how what ultimately pushes the story forward is Henry Ford II’s interest in showing off his power to Enzo Ferrari. The behind-the-scenes dealings and contract negotiations of these car companies trying to merge with one another makes for surprisingly thrilling drama and could have occupied an entire film by itself.

The highlights of Ford v Ferrari do come from the racing sequences. The trial and error that goes into building these potential death traps is fascinating to watch unfold. The third act, almost entirely set during the Le Mans championship, does the impressive job of providing plenty of character development as Miles attempts to finish the race. Mangold’s direction, Phedon Papamichael’s cinematography and the hard work of the visual effects and sound teams pull us into the race. Whenever the cars crash, the impact is felt. They also make the rules of the race understandable, even to those who have never watched the actual event before. What came before it is great, but the finale is what truly pushes Ford v Ferrari across the finish line with ease.

This movie succeeds at creating drama out of both the expected (races with fast-moving cars) and the unexpected (scenes of men in suits talking in boardrooms), all directed by James Mangold with a genuine interest in what these men accomplished. Ford v Ferrari shows the importance of moving forward and to innovate and while he may be a supporting character, the film also functions as a tribute to what Lee Iacocca sought to do in the auto industry. For those who want to see more serious adult dramas on the big screen, Ford v Ferrari more than fulfills that desire, while also taking full advantage of what cinemas with the best sound systems can do.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison