“Ford v Ferrari”

LOUISA: 2.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

In “Ford v Ferrari,” the drool-worthy beauties are the real draw. No, I’m not talking about the two hunky leads, I’m talking about the cars. Those who love the sound of a roaring engine and the curves of a sports car will find plenty to like. Even those who aren’t racing enthusiasts will likely find satisfaction in this well-told, well-crafted, crowd-pleasing story.

So why did I find it to be so disappointing?

First, the entire movie feels formulaic, dated, and uninspiring. The true story of visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and the spirited British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) is oversimplified in an easy-to-swallow cinematic pill. There’s such an interesting history that surrounds these two men and their determination to build a revolutionary race car for the Ford Motor Company. Honcho Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) threw money and resources at the duo in an attempt to undress Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) and his dominating vehicles by beating him at the famed Le Mans race in 1966.

The movie doesn’t offer a satisfactory explanation as to why Ford was at such odds with Ferrari. Yes, the Italian refused his offer to buy the struggling car company, but that hardly seems like a reason to make Ferrari the real villain. Is the Italian company evil because they win races and build superior cars? That’s simply not a good reason to dislike someone. In fact, the film makes Ford look like a real jackass, and it’s hard to root for a jerk. Too bad the film is designed to encourage audiences to cheer for Ford simply because they’re the American power corporation.

The screenplay isn’t deep nor challenging, and is filled with platitudes like “you can’t win a race by committee.” Even worse, it seems like 95% of Bale’s dialogue consists of “bloody hell.” (Can somebody do a count of the times he utters that in the movie? It has to reach double-digits in the first hour alone).

The performances aren’t awards-worthy either. Bale’s turn is a highly exaggerated, distracting lesson in how to clear all subtlety from the room. Damon isn’t much better, as he spends his time perfecting his best growling Tommy Lee Jones impersonation (but still manages to out-act Bale).

Giving credit where it’s due, the race scenes reach technical perfection, with thrilling stunt driving and skilled editing that will delight fans of motorsports. The sound is phenomenal (see it on the biggest screen with the best sound system you can find). The film is well made, but the final execution is lackluster.

One thing “Ford v Ferrari” does is cement the fact that “Rush” is still the best racing movie ever. It’s disappointing because the story on which it’s based is so interesting, but this too-straightforward retelling of history is too mainstream, too dull, and squanders a considerable opportunity.

11 comments

      1. oh.. it’s never good when it’s a let down. But I really enjoyed it. That being said, I did almost put in my review when I noted the reasoning why they had this dispute – ‘you know men’s drama’ because that’s is exactly what it is. When men have sports drama over who does whatever better, this is how they duke it out. hahahaha But I really liked the film a lot – i thought it brought great filming of the suspense of the races etc.. and really good performances by the entire cast. I’m not a LeMans person, but I faithfully have watched Formula One (different type of car racing) since I was a kid living the Netherlands where it’s very big – so maybe that was my reason, but I think it works just as well for those that don’t know racing. But everyone has their own likes/dislikes – that’s what makes it fun. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Ferrari personally attacked Ford (called him “fat”) and totally dissed his factory and workers. This was coming from a company and leader that was distressed financially. Ferrari made a fraction of cars in a year vs. what Ford produced. I didn’t have any problem connecting the dots. Not sure I understand Louisa’s concern in the review. What more could the film have done to show why these two men hated each other?

      The film’s racing scenes are entertaining in ScreenX, I bet it’s good in 4DX too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally got that, but that is a STUPID reason to make someone rivals. I never, ever understood why Ferrari was supposed to be the villain in the movie — out of spite? It’s certainly not because the company makes first class sports cars. Oh no, Ford’s feelings were hurt, wah wah wah. Not compelling enough to make me root for Ford and against Ferrari.

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      2. Can’t speak for other viewers, but I was rooting more for Carroll Shelby and Ken Mills than ever for Ford. I kind of enjoyed him as a bit of a stodgy rich guy character that seems to prefer the boardroom over the field and was just bankrolling the whole adventure. The scene with Ford getting a ride around the track by Shelby (totally fiction, by the way, never happened), seemed like a good “gotcha” moment to me.

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      3. And by “Ford,” I meant Shelby and Mills. But yeah, I knew I’d be getting tons of e-mails since I didn’t love the movie. Same thing with GREEN BOOK last year — this movie totally left me with that same unpleasant feeling.

        Liked by 1 person

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