Ford v Ferrari rates as one of the top films of all time
It still astounds me every time I see a Christian Bale movie and he successfully wills another character into life. That man has more range than a sniper rifle. He played a fantastic Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy, he nailed Dick Cheney in Vice, he managed to convey a semi-autistic professor of economics and banking genius in The Big Short and most recently he's become the famed Ken Miles from Shelby America Inc. in Ford v Ferrari.
Amazingly, Christian Bale doesn't actually have the best performance in that movie. There is a 1 on 1 moment mid-way through the film between Matt Damon as Carol Shelby and Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II which really does manage to convey everything any petrol head feels every day about cars, racing and all things mechanical. It's a scene where Henry Ford II breaks down in tears, which at the start had my entire cinema in stitches, but the scene quickly turns emotional after Letts begins a monologue about Ford's father Henry Ford I. Because that is what motoring is to all of us, it's family, it's emotion and it's an escape from life and any pain or stress we may have.
Ford v Ferrari manages to run at a ridiculous 152 minutes long. A feat which mirrors the most recent Avengers films, but unalike those films which had issues with pacing despite how amazing the finished product was, Ford v Ferrari manages to have you engaged at every step of the journey.
Of course the true historians who watch the movie will note there are many variations from the true story. Things like for example, Ken Miles was there for the first Le Mans where the Ford GT40s overheated and retired, or that the true historical account of his loss in 1967 was that Henry Ford II himself gave the order to have all three Fords cross the line at once and Bruce McLaren touched the throttle at the last second which gave him the win (no, there is no technicality at Le Mans which strips a win from a first placer to a second placer if the second placer started further back in the field).
To be honest, though, the true accounts of the story would most likely have taken away from the emotional connection between Miles and Shelby that Ford v Ferrari manages to convey. Not to mention the classic story of good versus evil or in this case the massive corporation which Ford was against Shelby's smaller sports car outfit.
I touched briefly on the run time above but I think it's worth delving a bit deeper into the pacing. I seldom view any films from the 21st century which manage to keep a consistent and non-exhausting pace at a length of over 90 minutes. In fact just the other week I watched a movie called Anna from Amazon Prime which starred bigger names such as Cilian Murphy and Helen Mirren and that clocked in at 100 minutes but felt like a marathon. Whilst I ended up enjoying the movie I had to pause it more than once to distract myself for a tick before coming back to it.
Ford v Ferrari in comparison felt like a walk in the park. The emotional scenes weren't daunting or exhausting, the race scenes were exciting and the dialogue was frankly hilarious. That's not to mention that the banterous relationship Damon and Bale managed to convey on screen between Miles and Shelby almost felt like a reminiscent of some of the world's best comedy duos.
The casting was spot on as well. I feel like I'm going to lose half of your attentions when I say I didn't enjoy American Sniper because Bradley Coopers southern accent to me felt like fingernails on a chalk board. I just couldn't listen to him. Damon on the other hand managed to score a touchdown with Shelby's southern accent. It was upbeat, funny and concise. Much alike to Christian Bale's surprising British accent.
But whilst those stars carry the movie, the big surprises come from the second rate casting. Jon Bernthal as Lee Iacocca (believe it or not this character is real and was responsible for the Mustang Fastback) was a fantastic semi-suit addition to the cast, Josh Lucas plays a fantastic suited villain in Leo Beebe (a character which Beebe's real life friends have already claimed the movie got wrong, no surprises there) and Caitriona Balfe supports Bale as his wife Mollie Miles.
Now many may turn their nose up at the title of this article. To put this film on a pedastool alongside movies alike to Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction and the Shawshank Redemption. But all of those films share core qualities in commonality with Ford v Ferrari. Things like lackluster positive reviews on launch, a combination of pant wetting humour and edge of seat action, long run times with no pacing and some of the best casts of all time. The other main thing it shares though is that it's enjoyable.
I normally seldom say this (mainly because I normally have no time) but I actually want to go back to the cinema and watch it again, and again, and again. 5 minutes before the films end I'm in tears, but come end of film I have a massive smile on my face. That's what Ford v Ferrari manages to do, make you happy. Isn't that why after a long days work, a bunch of people file into a cinema and buy their $10 ticket and $9 popcorn sit down and stare at a projected screen with a bunch of strangers for two hours?