Whether or not you're a car person, this film will grab you by the heart.
"Ford v Ferrari" is a crowd pleasing, cinematic masterpiece. And you don't have to enjoy auto racing in order to love it.
In the 1960s, Ford Motor Company attempted to acquire Ferrari and was verbally humiliated by Enzo Ferrari when he refused to acquiesce. Henry Ford II was so enraged that he became determined to have a race car built that would crush Ferrari at the prestigious 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France.
Ford (Tracy Letts) hires ex-racer-turned-auto designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to do the impossible. At first, Shelby and Miles don't quite hit it off, but their mutual respect for each other prevails, and a close friendship is eventually forged. And when the Ford bigwigs insist that Miles doesn't project a suitable image, Shelby fights tooth and nail in defending him, which sealed the deal for history to be made.
It's the chemistry between the two main characters and the two actors who portray them that make this film a joy to watch. Their constant wise-cracking, even when involved in a fist fight, radiates an underlying reverence for each other. Their bond is the draw.
Director James Mangold ("Walk the Line"), in a stroke of genius, chose award-winning Phedon Papamichael as his cinematographer. And what he captures on camera is jaw-dropping and exhilarating. We never tire of witnessing magnificent race cars being driven by fearless drivers as tensions continuously mount. And a savvy, finger-snapping score compliments his incredible visuals, brilliantly.
Obviously, Mangold didn't have to coax great performances from such gifted actors as Bale and Damon. But his supporting cast is equally as impressive. Noah Jupe as Miles' devoted son and Caitriona Balfe as his cucumber-cool wife are a powerful compliment to Bale's fascinating work in this film. Josh Lucas is super smarmy as Ford's lickspittle and a welcome face. However, it's Tracy Letts' portrayal of the arrogant and ruthless Henry Ford II that scene steals in each and every shot he occupies. Not an easy task.
"Ford v Ferrari" is not only a tribute to auto racing and the immense teamwork behind the sport. It's also a story that celebrates love and how it can overcome any and all obstacles put in its path.