Thursday, November 14, 2019

Movie with Abe: Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari
Directed by James Mangold
Released November 15, 2019

Cars are a way for people to get from place to place, and they have greatly opened up many geographical areas to accessibility and, as a result, habitability. For some, however, cars represent something much greater. Going as fast as possible is a remarkable allure, and racing presents enthusiasts with a chance to realize that potential – and beat it – by pressing the gas and pushing a vehicle to the maximum. It’s one addiction that can prove truly debilitating, with safety and caution thrown to the wind in favor of an incredible thrill.

Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) retires from racing early in his career due to a heart condition, moving into car sales. When a deal with Ferrari goes sour, the top marketing guru at Ford, Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), approaches Shelby for his help in designing a car to beat Ferrari at the world’s premiere race on behalf of frustrated president Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts). Shelby immediately selects the volatile but brilliant Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as his top choice to help build and eventually drive the car, putting his weight behind his choice despite strong objections from Ford’s top lieutenant, Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), about how Miles doesn’t represent the Ford brand.

This film’s title is a bit of a misnomer, as Ferrari figures minimally into the plot, and it’s much more about Shelby and Miles, two men who mostly see eye-to-eye, standing up to the unimaginative and narrow-minded leadership at Ford in their quest to build something they know can win. Miles doesn’t do well with authority, and Shelby, better at suppressing his urges to speak his mind at each moment, also finds frequent ways to toy with those who seek to tell him what he can and can’t do. Together, they make a formidable team, hard to contain but capable of remarkable innovations when they’re permitted to put their minds and hands to productive use.

This is a role that’s seemingly tailor-made for Bale, whose infamous real-life aggression is positively channeled into an unexpectedly endearing fearless character. This is neither his nor Damon’s finest work, though they both have fun while strongly portraying these two people who are major figures in sports history. Letts is particularly entertaining as Ford’s head honcho, with Noah Jupe and Caitriona Balfe helping to humanize Miles as his son and wife, respectively. This film isn’t always as vital or mesmerizing as something like “Rush,” but it does have its moments, and manages to make its lengthy 152-minute runtime mostly engaging. Like its protagonists, when this film hits high speed, it really delivers.


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