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There are true-story movies that are bland, mildly entertaining, and devoid of any striking characteristics beyond maybe a “transformative” lead performance. Then there are movies like Ford v Ferrari. Director James Mangold’s chronicle of Ford’s bid to build a car worthy of beating Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race is largely formulaic and predictable to be sure, but it’s executed so sharply, with such artistic confidence and mastery, that it rises above its familiar structure to become a rousing, wildly compelling, and genuinely great racing movie that harkens back to the good old days when major movie studios spent serious money on stories about human beings.
Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, a former race car driver and 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans winner with a bit of Texas swagger. After being sidelined from his career due to a heart condition, he’s approached by Ford Motor Company with an idea: Ford is looking to sell more cars to now-driving-age baby boomers by competing against Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, and they hope their victory will make their cars edgy enough for young consumers. Shelby is tasked with helping build and race the new car, but to do so he reaches out to an old friend.
Bale - Ken - Miles - Driver - Builder
Christian Bale is Ken Miles, an arrogant, self-assured yet extremely talented driver and builder himself with a knack for ignoring orders. Shelby enlists Miles to help build the Ford race car, and after some serious back-and-forth, Miles agrees. Together the two battle meddling Ford executives and Ferrari itself to try and win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ford v Ferrari is the kind of movie that plays out pretty much as you’d expect, but the screenplay by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller is impressively economical. Yes, there’s...
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