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Ford v. Ferrari

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Christian Kielbowicz

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In many ways, the new movie Ford v Ferrari echoes the classics of Hollywood with an exciting plot, dramatic sequences and wonderful acting by Christian Bale and Matt Damon. The movie is based on a true story about the Ford company’s struggles and attempt to create one of the world’s fastest racecars to beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a 24-hour race in France that tests both the car’s and the driver’s endurance. 

The movie starts with Henry Ford II offering a deal to buy the Ferrari company along with its racing team in order for the Ford brand to become more desirable among the younger generation and to get Ford out of a sales slump. Enzo Ferrari laughed in their faces and told them to keep their ugly cars in their ugly factories before calling Henry Ford II fat and pigheaded.  

The entire beginning act does a good job of playing up the rivalry between the two companies: Ferrari felt superior while Ford had a personal vendetta against them. In order to beat the Ferrari team, Ford decided to pull out all the stops with a virtually unlimited budget and some of the top car designers in America. The first person they went to was Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon, who was a car designer and former racer known for making some of the fastest cars available in America.  

Shelby agreed to work for Ford, with a caveat that he had full constructive freedom with the car. Ford agreed, and Shelby only had to answer to the top executives and CEOs of the company. The movie’s portrayal of Ford as a faceless corporation grew from this point, as the line of higher ups clogged up ideas and tried their hardest to impress their respective bosses. Because of this, Ford proved incapable of defeating Ferrari the first time around, the prime reason being that Ford would not let Shelby’s friend Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale, drive the car since his erratic behavior made him ill-suited to be the face of Ford racing. 

After the humiliating loss, Ford gave Shelby full authority over the team, including the driver. While I won’t spoil the rest of the movie, the movie accurately depicts the events of Le Mans 1966, and in the second act Matt Damon and Christian Bale let their acting skills shine through Shelby and Miles, throwing themselves into their characters. They seem like genuinely best friends, and this is shown not only by their actions in the movie, but through their conflicts and the comedic moments as well. In the span of two and a half hours, director James Mangold turns this piece from a racing movie to a buddy movie to a drama to a comedy, and works equally well in all categories. The movie, despite the premise being a thrilling action movie, doesn’t shy away from emotional scenes. In fact, many parts of this movie embrace the sad aspects along with comedy, making the movie come together like a finely-tuned racecar. 

Ford v Ferrari is less about cars and driving than it is about the drama and suspense that surrounded this race. This movie would more accurately be called Miles and Shelby v Ford, because it is mostly about two men with a dream to win at Le Mans and a bureaucratic car company mucking it up and getting in the way. It seems as though everyone in this movie has dreams they are trying to achieve, and their struggles to get there are riveting to watch and absolutely worth the time it takes to watch this movie.