Ford v. Ferrari, rated PG-13
Ford v. Ferrari is the real-life story of the Ford Motor Company trying to revive their sagging sales by taking on Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race in France. The film is well-made, directed and acted, but has too much adult language to be considered family friendly. The film is directed by Oscar nominee James Mangold (Logan), and written by Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow), John-Henry Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow), and Jason Keller. The film runs a lengthy 152 minutes (but doesn’t seem that long), and had a budget of nearly $100 million.
The sales at the Ford Motor Company are slipping in 1963. Marketing executive Lee Iacocca, played by John Bernthal, comes up with the idea of reviving the company and appealing to young drivers by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race. To facilitate this, Ford attempts to buy out Enzo Ferrari, played by Remo Girone, and his company, which has won four of the past five 24 Hours of Le Mans races. (SPOILER ALERT*** But just before the deal was to close, Enzo Ferrari pulls out, disagreeing with Ford’s demand to retain control. As a result, the bankrupt Ferrari was bought by Fiat. When the deal falls through, Henry Ford II, played by Tracy Letts (Lady Bird), decides to go to war with Ferrari, with a goal of winning the Le Mans race.***)Carrol Shelby is a Texan played by Oscar winner Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting). He won Le Mans in 1959 (that’s how the film opens), the first American driver to do so. However, he has serious heart problems (he’s often seen popping his heart pills), and as a result, is no longer able to race. He is now a respected car designer. Shelby is recruited by Iacocca, and given a blank check and 90 days to engineer a car (that would become the GT40), in an attempt to defeat Ferrari in the Le Mans race.
Shelby knows that he needs driver and car engineer Ken Miles, played by Oscar winner Christian Bale (The Fighter), to help engineer the car and be his driver. Miles is from Britain and now lives in Los Angeles operating a garage while struggling to pay the bills. Miles loves his family – wife Mollie is played by four-time Golden Globe nominee Caitriona Baffe (Outlander), and son Peter, is played by Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) – but he is known to be stubborn, difficult to work with, and has a temper. Shelby has to continually fight Ford executives, notably marketing executive Leo Beebe, played by Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind), to have Miles as his driver. Oscar winner Ray McKinnon (The Accountant) portrays Shelby’s long-time assistant Phil Remington.
Will Shelby and Miles be able to overcome the obstacles at Ford to engineer a car that can defeat Ferrari at Le Mans?
Themes in the film include friendship, achievement, self-sacrifice and family. Content concerns include adult language, including several abuses of God’s name, and the expected racing violence (crashes, fires).
The film features a strong cast, led by outstanding acting performances by Bale and Damon. The filming of the intense racing scenes by Oscar nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska) is excellent, and I believe Oscar worthy. The film’s sound (racing of car engines) adds a lot to the film as well. The musical score is by two-time Oscar nominee Marcos Beltrami (The Hurt Locker, 3:10 to Yuma), and Oscar nominee Buck Sanders (The Hurt Locker).
Ford v. Ferrari is an exciting, well-made and acted film about a true story. It is somewhat marred however, by a significant amount of adult language.