The Ford GT-40, a legend of the 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, and motorsport history in general. But unless you’re a motorsport fan, you probably don’t know the epic underdog story behind the car. Lucky for us FORD v FERRARI is here to tell that story, and does so exceptionally well.
It’s the mid 60s, the Ford motor company is in a slump, and the marketing team are scrambling to kick sales back into gear. When Ford hears Ferrari are on the verge of bankruptcy they make an offer to buy them out, but Enzo Ferarri is unimpressed with the offer and insults Henry Ford II. Henry is far from impressed with this insult and vows to crush Ferrari at what they do best, dominating the 24-Hour Le Mans. Only catch is that there is only 90 days to the event, and they still need to design and build a car!
Academy award winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale lead this incredible true story. Damon stars as Carroll Shelby, famed ex race car driver come sports car designer. Shelby was also one of only a handful of Americans to have won the 24-Hour Le Mans at the time, the race being his last before retirement. Carroll would recruit friend and race car driver Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale, to the team. The pair had worked together previously to develop the Shelby Cobra sports car. Together, along with a team of the best engineers and car builders, they would go on to make Henry Ford II’s dream come true.
I’ve gotta say that Bale was the standout of these to great leads. His portrayal of English-American Ken Miles was fantastic, a confident and fun loving man who was always cracking jokes, but also very serious about what he and the team was doing. It was fascinating watching Ken‘s method of development, completely analogue, just driving the vehicle and being able to tell what needs to be adjusted, fixed or improved. The role of Ken was certainly big shoes to fill, and I think Bale did this well.
Damon’s portrayal of Carroll Shelby was much more reserved and straight-laced. He was more the ideas man and manager of the whole project, having to deal with the increasingly frustrating marketing team from Ford, after all this was being sold as a marketing stunt as well as a grudge match! But this reserved portrayal worked extremely well with Bale’s performance, a ‘yin and yang’, as the two bounced off of each other and had great chemistry on screen. It really felt the pair had huge respect for each other and what they do.
I also need to give some praise to Caitríona Balfe for her portrayal of Ken’s wife Mollie and Noah Jupe who played Ken’s son. They were fantastic in their roles, Balfe was a strong and powerful woman that stood by her husband and paired with her son, created a great anchor to keep Ken grounded. On-screen they came across as a genuine family and I could feel the love they all felt.
The story that this film is based on is true, incredible, and I think was adapted really well for the screen. Sure some events had been jumbled up a little to make the timeline work better, but the real meaning of the story isn’t lost by these changes. There is the perfect amount of heroes and villains to make you root for the underdog and have you on the edge of your seat.
My last bit of praise for this film is for the racing sequences, which are no easy thing to film and make feel authentic, but I feel the team really nailed this key component which really made FORD v FERRARI shine. I later discovered these scenes were all created in camera, with no special effects, using all sorts of crazy looking rigs and contraptions. With no green screens in sight, I think this is what gave the racing a real authentic feel and almost put you in the driver’s seat at times.
I must say that this is not a film just for motorsport fans! Do not be fooled by the title as this is a film that will captivate EVERYONE. If you want to experience an incredibly true underdog story, then get out to your local cinema and see this brilliant film on the big screen. I don’t believe a TV will do it justice. FORD v FERRARI is full of emotion, will keep you on the edge of your seat and have you leaving the cinema elated and grinning.
FORD v FERRARI will be in cinemas from November 14.