It is very easy to become a cynic after a year of sitting through films such as Dark Pheonix, Terminator: Dark Fate, Charlie’s Angels, and 47th Marvel Disney movie that you better not ever call a theme park ride. After a while, you begin to question if the progressive and feminist well of Hollywood is completely dry. Then every year you have a film like Ford v Ferrari that manages to slip through the industry cracks and reassures you that there are STILL people in this town who know how to write a great story and make a great film.
Ford v Ferrari is the story behind the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. American automobile manufacturer Ford is losing the popularity race to companies like Chevrolet. In desperate need of a drastic change, Henry Ford II decided that the best way to get name recognition is to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the problem is, the race has been dominated in the last few years by Ferrari. After a botched attempt to buy the company, Ford looks to beat Ferrari in the upcoming race. To do so, they recruit the best duo money can buy, former American racer turned car dealer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and British hot-tempered racer Ken Miles (Christian Bale). Together the duo attempts to do what is sought to be impossible, beat the fastest cars in the world with a Ford.
Ford v Ferrari is a cultural shock to longtime viewers of modern cinema. In an industry that favors stories that promote a more progressive world view, Ford v Ferrari is a throwback to the time of Americana and family values. A compelling story that highlights the importance of family, friends, love, and the drive for American greatness. Christian Bale is the show-stealer of the film as character of Ken Miles. As a racer, he is shown as the only man with the true knowledge and understanding of how to build a car from scratch that is destined to win. As a father, he is shown as a true family man and a strong role model for his wife and his son. A complete 180 from an industry that currently wants to demonize men and traditional families.
Matt Damon does a great job as Shelby even though he seems to have a tough time keeping that Texan accent. Damon’s fight against the corporate boardroom is one of the many entertaining angles as he tries to balance his competitiveness to win with his loyalty to his best friend so they can both share the thrill of victory. The pacing is brilliant to the point that you do not feel the 152-minute runtime at all and don’t want it to end when it’s over. The supporting cast of characters such as Caitriona Balfe and Jon Bernthal shows that human relationships are the bread and butter of this epic and they got the right people for the job.
Ford v Ferrari is the type of oscar bait that restores your faith in the genre as well as the industry. The film’s window into classic California Conservatism is one that should be savored because you won’t get much of it from Hollywood these days so enjoy while you can.