Ford V Ferrari (2019) Movie Review
Jez and John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Kellerand
Do you like all the thrills and speed of those Fast and Furious movies without all that moronic dialogue about family, Vin Diesel, or all-out idiocy?
Do you like watching Matt Damon act with one of the 350 actors that have played Batman over the past 30 years?
Do you hate unpredictability and need to know where every story beat is going to end up, where every line of dialogue will pay off at by the end of the movie?
Do you hate reviews that start off with a bunch of inane questions simply to pad a word count?
If you answered no, yes, or simply acted with indifference, then Scott Pilgrim Vs Tucker and Dale Vs Ford V Ferrari Vs Predator is definitely the movie for you. It’s based on the true story that’s too amazing to believe but it happened in real life and there’s a movie about so…there.
I’m not a huge fan of racing, mostly because I’m not white, but there are more than a few thrilling moments in Ford v Ferrari, most of which involves trying to decipher what Christian Bale is trying to say since he’s speaking in his native accent. See this in theaters definitely, but when you see it on Blu-Ray eventually make sure you have the subtitles on.
Ford V Ferrari opens in a doctor’s office in the 60s. Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon, working with his 3rd Batman) is recounting his final days as a racer while he gets his heart checked. It’s not great news. Suburbicon and Downsizing were 2 of the dullest movies of 2017 and he needs to make a film that audiences actually want to see.
Also, his racing career is over because of his heart condition. He could race, but then he’d probably die while racing and endanger all the other drivers around him.
As an Asian person, I know what that’s like being a danger to all the other drivers around me.
Carroll decides to build race cars. He’s pretty good at it.
Meanwhile, our friends at Ford Motor Company are not very happy. Sales of Ford vehicles are at an all time low. Henry Ford 2 (or as they call him in the film, the Deuce, or as I call him when I ring him on the telephone, the Sequel- he’s played by Tracy Letts) is not having a great year. But he’s a rich old white guy, so we’re guessing somehow he’ll turn out all right.
Ford is also getting trampled on the world racing stage by the automotive giant Ferrari. In movie terms, Ferrari is Marvel and Ford is DC.
This doesn’t quite work in movie terms because there’s a possibility of a happy ending for our folks at Ford, while DC still sucks.
Anyway, Ford employee Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) wants to make Ford sexier to the younger generation by redoubling efforts to make the Ford’s racing division less dreadful. Young people have money to spend these days and if they’re buying a car, they’re not going to spend it on something as dull as a Ford.
Having a good racing division will remedy that, especially since Ferrari has won the past 200 Le Mans races.
Meanwhile, we meet our good friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale). He currently owns a garage, has a kid (Noah Jupe) that worships him and a wife Mollie (Caitriona Balfe) with an accent almost as indecipherable as his. His garage is not doing well because Ken is not a good people person. Ken used to be a racer but his abrasive personality made him persona non grata and his services were no longer wanted.
Remember what I wrote about Ken owning a garage. Well, IRS just seized it so that’s no longer a thing.
Ken needs a job. Who would hire him? Probably someone who needs a skilled, instinctual driver that only cares about what’s going on behind the wheel, even if it upsets some of the stuffy higher-ups.
How do all these three seemingly disparate story threads all come together?
After Ferrari makes fun of Ford on 60s social media, Henry Ford is miffed. He tells Iacocca to do whatever it takes to beat those Italians.
Iacocca hires Shelby to lead the new Ford Racing division and build a race care that can finally win Le Mans.
Shelby hires Miles to be the driver and not to be too much of a jackass. Miles promises to do one of those things.
Will Ford finally beat Ferrari on the world stage? The only way you can find is if you watch this movie.
Or, you can just google it because it’s public record and nobody is trying to keep this a secret or anything. But it’s probably more entertaining just to watch the movie. I wouldn’t want you to hurt your fingers typing out words in search engine.
What Works With Ford V Ferrari
- Director James Mangold (who worked with Bale in 3:10 To Yuma and the excellent Logan) makes 2.5 hours breeze by, and it’s not just because a good portion of the movie takes place on the racetrack. The human drama is handled with just as much skill. You care about the characters so you’re invested enough in them even though it’s just a basic David V Goliath story.
- As you might expect, the racing scenes are the best part of the movie. Each racing sequence is just different enough so the audience doesn’t suffer the fatigue of seeing the same thing onscreen. You almost get why white people love this so much.
- The bromantic chemistry between Matt Damon and Christian Bale is hot enough to blow a head gasket…or some car term like that. He’s made sparks with Affleck, stole hearts with Clooney, but Damon’s work with this Batman will put nipples on your bat suit.
What Doesn’t Work With Ford V Ferrari
- There’s only one female character with any importance onscreen, and she’s not really given anything to do except be supportive wife…up to a point. Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) is wasted in a nothing role but the movie is so quickly paced you barely notice it.
- Just in case the battle between Ford and Ferrari wasn’t enough for you, the movie manages to shoehorn a one-dimensional D-bag character played by Josh Lucas whose only purpose is to give the audience a thinly written villain. Every time Lucas’ Leo Beebe appears onscreen you know he’s going to say/do something to provide a fake obstacle for our heroes.
Speed your way to Ford v Ferrari as it’s one of the most thrilling movies of November. It will make you believe in America that you’ll stand and salute right before the racing sequences. Or, the cars going fast is just a cover up for erectile dysfunction.