'Ford v Ferrari' is an adrenaline rush with art house appeal

Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V FERRARI. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)

Ford v Ferrari
4 out of 5 Stars
James Mangold
Writers: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller
Starring: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Caitriona Balfe
Genre: Biography, Drama, Action
Rated: PG-13 for some language and peril

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Looking to change the general perception of Ford Motors, Lee Iacocca hires racing legend Carroll Shelby to build a race car fast enough to beat a Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Review: Ford v Ferrari” is the story of Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) struggling to fill his father’s shoes. It is a narrative that sees Lee Iacocca’s (John Bernthal) bid to make the automotive brand popular with younger generations. It is the ultimate underdog story as it finds legendary racecar driver Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) faced with the impossible task of building a car that could outrace the perfection of Ferrari.

Most of all, “Ford v Ferrari” is a film about Ken Miles (Christian Bale).

Ken Miles was his own worst enemy. He was an incredibly talented racecar driver that was equally famed for being difficult to work with. Still, he had a wife (Caitriona Balfe) who loved him, a son (Noah Jupe) who looked up to him and a friend in Shelby that believed in him to the point that he would risk everything to support him. You probably won’t understand what these people see in him, I certainly didn’t, but by the end of the film their devotion won’t feel misplaced.

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Bale is fantastic, but it is Balfe’s performance as long-suffering wife Mollie Miles that served as my port of entry into the story. Director James Mangold’s handling of the racing sequences will leave you breathless. I hadn’t been that tired leaving a theater since watching “Mad Max: Fury Road.” I don’t even like watching car racing. Still, I was transfixed; completely invested in every turn and straightway.

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“Ford v Ferrari” is one of my favorite films from 2019. It’s equally an adrenaline rush and a character study of a deeply flawed man. It is the sort of film that balances itself perfectly between blockbuster and art house. That’s an incredibly difficult thing to do.