In Brief: What a fun story. Fun stories mean fun movies. Fun performances usually accompany fun movies and that brings us back to fun story.
Great characters and a script to match drive this one.
Ford v Ferrari is about racing in the 1960s that — not surprisingly — doesn’t go from zero to 200 mph in a flash. Those are the average straightaway speeds at Le Mans. This is the race that Henry Ford II asked Carroll Shelby to help him win back in 1965. In those days no one could top Ferrari for vehicle speed and endurance.
Yet in 1966 Ford’s Mustang Shelby won it all.
Ford v Ferrari slowly, and in good detail, is the story of how it all came together. And it’s a ride every bit as much fun as blasting down a Le Mans straightaway at 200-plus.
On the racing side of things director James Mangold makes sure you know that these guys are flying down the track at warp speed. You get tons of cars on the track from inside them and out. His only flaw is the over use of cutaways where Christian Bale’s Ken Miles grinds his teeth, slams the car into another gear and hits the gas.
It’s a bit much but it works.
What really helps the movie get up to speed is the incredible acting and the chemistry of the cast. Matt Damon plays Shelby like a brilliant diplomat and Bale does Miles like a nearly uncontrollable loose cannon with insanely good and fearless driving skills.
No one does uncontrollable characters with quirky but lovable flaws better than Bale. He does Miles with heady-shaking clarity. He the Yin to Damon’s voice of reason Yang. Damon is the perfect counter for Bale’s manic intensity.
Best acting accolades for both.
The rest of the cast fit the story and the acting of the two principals. And they do so like this cog or that in the high test engine of a Shelby. Most of those kudos go to “A Quiet Place’s” Noah Jupe who plays Miles adoring son Peter, Caitriona Balfe (TV’s Outlander) as the driver’s patient wife and Josh Lucas who serves as the bad guy in the Ford hierarchy.
The taking of the possible checkered flag crossing best picture starts with the exceptional screenplay of Jez and John Henry Butterworth who wrote the James Bond flick Spectre and the excellent Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller, Edge of Tomorrow. They’re joined by of Jason Keller Mirror Mirror and Machine Gun Preacher fame.
This one is a blast from start to finish.
Their story and Mangold’s (Logan, Walk the Line, Cop Land) ability to tell one helps Ford v Ferrari blast across the finish line and is all geared up, taking corners hard and fast, blasting down the straightaway and officially in the race for best picture, best actors, best director and best screenplay.
Oh, and if you love cars, and speed and this one gives you the urge to pick up a Shelby for yourself, the price tag for a new one in 2020 is $73,000. Used they go from $41,000 to $65,000.
So getting your speed fix will be much less expensive at the film that is this week’s box office best.
Director: James Mangold
Stars: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Noah Jupe, Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Ray McKinnon, Tracy Letts
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. Slam this one from gear to gear and just enjoy the ride. It finally hits 200mph on the straightaways and is a breathholding 190 on the corners. Give this a 5 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
Click here for theaters and show times.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.