It’s 1963, the Vice President of the Ford Motor Company, Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), is tasked with assembling a team that can not only build a vehicle that can compete with Ferrari’s vehicles, but also a driver that can handle the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest endurance race, the same race Ferrari has won 4 years running. Iacocca turns to former racer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the owner of Shelby American and the 1959 winner of Le Mans. Faced with such a daunting challenge, Shelby enlists the help of Ken Miles (Christian Bale), a man who’s a brilliant mechanic, but a hot-headed racer. Together, they will have to work themselves to the bone if they are to have any hope of even challenging Ferrari, let alone beating them.
“Ford v Ferrari” is an interesting biopic movie that focuses on events in the 1960s involving Ford, Carroll Shelby, and Ken Miles—the motorsport star and an inductee in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. From the trailers alone this looked like an entertaining film from the get-go, I just wasn’t certain what kind of film it would be. With the film being based on true events, I was curious whether the film would focus on Ford’s side of the story, Carroll Shelby’s side, or Ken Miles’. What the film delivers is an ‘All-Star Cast’ type of story. Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles both share the spotlight, and both use it well as we see them interact.
Matt Damon and Christian Bale work fluently off each other; even their co-stars give a grand performance. Everyone settles into their respective roles and performs them well, especially Jon Bernthal. As an actor who’s usually typecast as the thug, he plays the role of a humble business executive quite well.
What I love most about the movie is how it handles its plot between the various characters. “Ford v Ferrari” stands out as a good example of having enough plot to stand on its feet without ever feel like its dragging or glossing over details as we watch Miles and Shelby deal with the challenges of building a car their way, all while contending with corporate interference from Ford, and dealing with their own personal problems as well. Best of all, the movie has a clean sense of humor and it knows how to use it well. The humor serves the plot; as it should. For example, when Ken Miles does something humorous the audience gets a laugh, but his actions affect the story, so the joke has weight on the overall plot. It’s not just there for comedy, it has a purpose—something that most modern comedies fail to utilize.
“Ford v Ferrari” is rated PG-13 for language and peril. I’m going to be upfront and admit that I have little to no interest in motor vehicles. Despite my views, however, the movie still held my interest as I watched Miles and Shelby work. This film has something for everyone. If you’re a history buff that loves seeing a period piece movie take you back to another time, then you’ll enjoy this movie. If you’re an automobile enthusiast that loves seeing a crew put their heads together to come up with new and interesting ways of building a vehicle, then you’ll also enjoy this movie. Which is why the final score for “Ford v Ferrari” is an 8 out of 10.