Following the lack of truly great films to be released during the summer of this year, I was beginning to worry that 2019 would not be a great year for movies.
Many films this year have failed to live up to their potential, and while many of those released films were quite enjoyable, not many of them felt like they deserved to be on a “best of the year” list.
Thankfully, as we get closer to the end of the year, this trend of disappointment has finally begun to turn around. In the past couple of months, original films like “Ad Astra,” “Joker,” “Jojo Rabbit” and “The Lighthouse” have shown that 2019 might be a memorable year for moviegoers after all. What’s even better is that this streak doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon. With films such as “Parasite,” “Knives Out” and “The Irishman” soon to be released, there’s certainly plenty to look forward to.
The latest film to save 2019’s film slate is “Ford v Ferrari,” which provides one of the most exciting in-theater experiences of the year that will surely leave audiences’ hearts racing.
“Ford v Ferrari” is directed by James Mangold, who has made a name for himself directing acclaimed films such as “Walk the Line,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “Logan” — which was my favorite film of 2017. Set in the 1960s, “Ford v Ferrari” tells the story of the Ford Motor Company’s pursuit to create a car that could beat one of Enzo Ferrari’s in a race. It don’t have just any race in mind, however. It wants to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the most brutal and fast-paced endurance races in the world.
Ford hires Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), a genius engineer and the first American to win the Le Mans, to lead its operation. Shelby then brings on his friend — one of the world’s best racers — Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to not only help design what would become the Ford GT40, but to pilot the beast of a machine during all of its races.
This story should immediately pique the interest of car enthusiasts, but to be honest, it didn’t really appeal to me. I’m not a car guy, and I’m certainly not interested in racing. My interest in this film came solely from Mangold’s attachment and the incredible cast.
To my surprise, “Ford v Ferrari” was able to make me — someone who finds no enjoyment in this kind of stuff — not only enjoy, but love this story from start to finish. Clocking in at a lengthy two-and-a-half-hours long, it earns every minute.
Whether the film is showcasing the business behind this whole operation, exploring the relationship between Ken and his family or depicting the historical races, every single scene added to the overall experience of the movie. There isn’t a moment of wasted time in “Ford v Ferrari.” The scenes built characters by highlighting their individual motivations, established settings and forwarded and twisted the plot. Every moment is utilized to its fullest potential, a filmmaking virtue that made the film consistently engaging and absolutely exhilarating to watch.
Adding to the overall energy of “Ford v Ferrari” were the performances from Damon and Bale.
Both Damon and Bale were on fire during this movie. Damon portrayed Shelby as an incredibly charming individual who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when he needs to. He’s a tough guy, and he’s willing to stand up for himself and his decision-making. Bale, on the other hand, was able to perfectly portray the almost-smug charisma of Ken, while still making him relentlessly likable.
Both of these actors alone were fantastic, but when they were together, their performances thrived off each other. They had wonderful chemistry together and, even though their characters were constantly fighting, it was always apparent these two were good friends and had a sense of genuine respect for one another.
All of the racing sequences in “Ford v Ferrari” are even more exciting than you’d expect them to be. I found myself literally on the edge of my seat several times throughout the racing sequences in this movie. Mangold did a brilliant job of making every single detail understandable to the audience. Mangold highlighted the continuous heat-of-the-moment decisions the drivers made, the different hazards each track posed and the many different techniques utilized when racing at speeds upward of 200 mph.
Going into “Ford v Ferrari,” I had little-to-no interest in the film’s subject matter. However, by focusing on the characters of the film, the dangerous situations depicted and the pure dedication the Ford team had, Mangold made me care.
With “Ford v Ferrari” Mangold crafted an enthralling film reminiscent of the race cars and the race it depicts. It’s incredibly efficient in its storytelling despite the long run-time, as every scene builds upon and adds to the excitement of the film. “Ford v Ferrari” is relentlessly invigorating and leaves the audience satisfied, catching their breath as if they had just finished a race of their own.