'Ford v Ferrari' Is Matt Damon's New Car Ad Directed by James Mangold
Starring Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Catriona Balfe, Noah Jupe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Remo Girone, Ray McKinnon, JJ Field, Jack McMullen
Published Nov 12, 2019When it comes to the titular showdown of Ford v Ferrari, it's hard to give much of a shit. This is a story of corporation versus corporation — an old-fashioned underdog sports movie where the supposed underdog is… the Ford Motor Company.
The film traces Ford's attempts to conquer the world of racing cars in the 1960s, with the specific aim of beating Ferrari at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race (for marketing/branding purposes, of course). For the task, they hire car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon, doing a pretty decent Texas accent), who in turn recruits the talented but temperamental driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale, doing an English Midlands accent that sounds suspiciously Australian).
The early part of the film is a dull slog of boardroom discussions and corporate strategizing that even the aggressively cheerful score can't make interesting. Are we actually supposed to be rooting for Ford here? Go America, rah rah rah?
Thankfully, things get a lot livelier when director James Mangold shifts the focus away from the brands and onto the people. Bale's slapstick sass is grating, but Damon lands some solid punchlines with his portrayal of Shelby as a deadpan straight man with a mischievous side. The suits at Ford prove to be wonderfully hateable as they attempt to sabotage Miles for not toeing the company line.
The battle of Ford against Ferrari is just one long commercial for the American auto industry. The battle of Ford against its own race team, however, has a side worth rooting for. (Twentieth Century Studios)