Matt Damon and Christian Bale in a scene from Ford V Ferrari.
Matt Damon and Christian Bale in a scene from Ford V Ferrari. Merrick Morton

MOVIE REVIEW: Damon, Bale at the top of their game

Its pacing? At a cinematic lap speed of 152 minutes, not exactly fast.

Its temperament? In harking back to an era where motor racing was a gentlemanly pursuit, nowhere near furious.

Nevertheless, Ford V Ferrari is as fine a movie about cars, car racing and car drivers as you could ever hope to see these days.

In fact, Ford V Ferrari is about a whole lot more than merely a life lived on four wheels.

So much so that even non-petrolheads who'd rather watch a doco about public transport will likely find themselves both totally engrossed and entertained.

Ford v Ferrari will entertain more than just revheads. Picture: AP
Ford v Ferrari will entertain more than just revheads. Picture: AP

Screenplay-wise, all roads lead towards the 1966 edition of the Le Mans 24-hour motor race, where American manufacturing giant Ford is looking to end the dominance of the event by its bitter Italian rivals Ferrari.

Bitter is not a word used lightly in this particular scenario. Earlier in the 1960s, Ford had come close to purchasing Ferrari outright, a deal that could have changed the course of vehicular history.

Until it fell through, of course. All of which left Ford with a point to prove on the world motoring stage, and no model on its assembly line with which to do it.

If this was all there was to the substance of Ford V Ferrari, a ho-hum pass mark would be the expected result.

However, the movie is equally about the wars waged inside Ford to create a car capable of conquering the bitumen battleground of Le Man.

It is here, in the most vital and electrifying sections of the production, that we find a well-matched Matt Damon (as gifted designer Carroll Shelby) and Christian Bale (as maverick driving ace Ken Miles) at the very top of their game.

Christian Bale gives his most warm and endearing performance to date. Picture: AP
Christian Bale gives his most warm and endearing performance to date. Picture: AP

Shelby, a former victor at Le Mans, is recruited by Ford - in particular, its legendary executive Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal - to scheme up a car that could change the perception of the company once and for all.

In turn, Shelby brings in the mercurial Miles to bash, thrash and yes, crash the prototype into a possible Le Mans-winning shape.

If there is one character that propels Ford V Ferrari towards a winning outcome it is Miles, who draws from Bale his most endearing and warm performance to date.

A genius under the bonnet, a magician behind the wheel and a happy-go-lucky contrarian at all times, the unknown Miles is a fascinating one of a kind who fully warrants the prominence he is given here.

A movie that keeps giving a rush, even when it backs off the speed.

 

FORD V FERRARI (M)

Director: James Mangold (Walk the Line)

Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale,

Rating: ****

Burning all rubber while keeping your cool



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