Underdog films are always a draw for me. Normally, if you grew up in the eighties, many of those films were under the titles of Revenge of the Nerds, Real Genius, or Animal House. However, James Mangold brought one of the more traditional Oscar long-shots for Best Picture, Ford v Ferrari. While I did like this movie a lot, it was the magnetic performances of Matt Damon and Christian Bale that brought the whole film together in my opinion.
Carroll Shelby (Damon), having been the only American to race in the Le Mans is brought on to get Ford to race (and possibly win Le Mans). It is the brain child of the, yet, unknown Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal). After a botched attempt to buy Ferrari, and a personal insult, Shelby is brought on to create a car that can actually win. Unfortunately for everyone involved, he needs to bring on Ken Miles (Bale), who doesn’t play nicely with others.
Let’s be honest about one thing: Ford v Ferrari doesn’t break any rules in making this movie. The racing scenes are exciting and the friendship between the two leads solidifies the picture. Mangold does a great job making the film look bigger than most films out there, trying to make an epic picture with computer generated graphics.
Like in many of these movies, you need a bad guy to root against. Josh Lucas, who plays Leo Beebe, is serviceable in the role. Yet, it isn’t too clear how much of that was true in the story, but it worked for the film. I consider this film a long shot because it is too much of a feel-good movie (and safe) that would‘ve won the Best Picture category years ago.
To be clear, I really enjoyed the movie. It was a fun movie (and loved the racing scenes) that allows me to give this film a positive review. However, the movie took no real risks and played it safe. It was a fun movie that anyone will enjoy. Even the performances for Bale and Damon were easy, which is saying a lot for Bale. It won’t surprise anyone and you kind of know how this already ends, but it is still fun to watch. But don’t expect this to be a winner come Oscar night.
Rating: 3 stars