Usually with “based on true events” biopics, if I don’t know much about the subject/subjects, I do a little research beforehand with what really happened so that I can compare the movie to it, and pick out the inaccuracies, to try and be comfortable with them. Also I do that to try and get into the mind set of the filmmakers, to maybe get a feel for why those choices were made. But with FORD V FERRARI, I decided not to this time, just for the sake of just watching and enjoying the movie for what it is, and I have to say that was a great decision. Ford V Ferrari is old school film making at its finest. It will remind you of the underdog triumph movies of the late 90s/early 2000s and is just an entertaining feel good film for everyone to enjoy. And the fact that the lengthy 2 and a half hour run time blows by faster than those cars in the movies, is a giant indicator of just how good it is. Any other year, like those previous time periods mentioned above, this one would sweep the Oscars. It’s a different time now so no film is really a true lock anymore, but I do predict that it will get a shit ton of nominations and win in most if not all of the technical awards (editing, sound editing and sound mixing). For me, it is one of the best films of 2019, with an unsurprising tour de force performance by one actor we can always trust now: Christian Bale.
Ahhh, yes, this is where I explain the plot, where I usually do a little more research to come up with well structured sentences and try to make it sound like I’m smart. Eh, fuck that, let’s just wing this. Henry Ford II is losing business and tries to buy out Ferrari to make more luxurious cars for baby boomers to get the company back on track. Ferrari laughs in their faces and insults the entire organization, so Ford decides he’s going to build a race car and beat Ferrari at the 24 hr race at Le Mans. They hire Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon to help out in this matter, and he in turn wants the knowledge and driving skills of Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale, who is a bit difficult to work with. Can they succeed? Boom, how did I do? Usually biopics with that big of a run time always have a slow spot or two to try and have everyone catch up with what is going on (and/or go to the rest room), but not this movie. I suggest to not buy any drinks and pee beforehand, because there is not an ounce of filler in this. In what would be the slow dialogue spots, both Matt Damon and Christian Bale elevate their performances to have those scenes be absolutely unmissable. Again, especially Bale.
Director James Mangold is now a director you can bet all your chips on. Sure, he has had a misfire or two, specifically Knight & Day, but I mean look at this guys resume. The superior remake of 3:10 To Yuma, Walk The Line, Girl, Interrupted, and one of the best comic book adaptations of all time, Logan. It is safe to say we can now put 100% of faith into him to delivery a pretty solid flick. The movie is near perfect but everything technical wise is perfect, specifically the sound mixing and editing. Fucking seamless. The roar of every engine, the squeak of every turn, every sound puts you in the drivers seat, deeper and deeper into the movie. It’s brilliant. I know there were a couple of CGI enhanced shots, but most of it was definitely real cars being raced and filmed, not the CGI bukkake that most of the Fast & Furious and other car movies are these days. The point is I couldn’t tell what was enhanced at all. And the acting is solid, from Matt Damon giving us his best performance since The Martian, to Outlander’s Caitriona Balfe being Miles loving and tough wife, to Josh Lucas playing the perfect asshole that you just want to beat the shit out of, to Tracy Letts playing a tough yet hilariously vulnerable and manipulated Henry Ford II, to even Jon Barenthal giving us something different playing one of Ford’s assistants.
But the true star here is Christian Bale, showing that even when he is stripped of a massive weight loss or gain for a role, stripped of all the prosthetics, he is one of the greatest actors of our generation, of all time. He gives it his all here, making Ken Miles a quirky character you can’t help but love, even with his difficult attitude. Bale’s face is so focused and tense during the racing sequences, it make me think that he practiced at home while taking a giant shit. It’s that intense. But yeah, I don’t need to say anymore, go see this movie, it is fantastic. It is expertly crafted, expertly directed, expertly edited, expertly acting, expertly (insert compliment here). Don’t go looking up the history of the two men or of that race, because the movie actually has a few twists and turns to it that I didn’t see coming, and something that I haven’t really scene in sports/racing films like these before, color me absolutely shocked and surprised. When I eventually get this for home viewing, I would definitely go a few laps watching it again, as it went straight to the finish line into the winner’s circle of my heart.