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  • Bruce Klein

Ford vs. Ferrari: Race Crazy


Take two great actors and racing cars, and presto you have an exciting movie. Based on a true story, Ford vs Ferrari is a journey from one race track to another. Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) former racer and race car manufacturer teams up with his friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale). These two are power houses on the endurance racing circuit. Ford Motors is in need of a new image to attract a large new generation of young consumers. They need something faster and sexier like winning race cars. They give Shelby a blank check to accomplish their goal. Talk about a thrilling ride. Watching this movie is like being in the grandstands.


Ken has a nice family with a darling wife and young boy. But the racing business is anything but warm and homey. There is a constant need to win on the track and improve the race car in the shop. Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) is fired up to get a Ford on the track competing in endurance races. He is impressed by Shelby but does not trust him. To control and monitor Shelby, he puts one of his executives, Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), in charge of the racing operation. Beebe and Shelby are like oil and water. So Shelby works around him and over him as much as possible.


The movie unfolds like the space race. There is no breathing room in the movie. It speeds along. If you blink, you missed something. Shelby is smooth and Miles is a hot head. They are counterweights for each other’s weaknesses. Shelby is deal maker and manager and Miles is racer and engineer. As Shelby says, “Ken Miles is out there getting it done.” The clashes between the Shelby American team and the Ford Company are explosive and these fireworks become part of the action. The plot is simple: Shelby and Miles must win the Le Mans 24-hour annual race to make their mark. They will take on danger with determination to attain a win and the supreme feeling of traveling so fast it’s like floating through the air.


The movie has a precise scene sequence, which is perfect for the subject matter. The special effects are seamless and undetectable. Cars are the main characters in the movie. Yes, the relationship between Shelby and Miles and the relationship between Miles and his adoring son and wife are central but without the fantastic races, car talk and car testing this movie would not make the grade.


At this time in our history, when we desperately need an American first story, Ford v Ferrari comes along and gives us one. Director James Mangold expertly handles a challenging film. He carefully crafted what was needed and delivers an exciting product. This is a guy picture. But women, who love the sport of racing, should see this movie. Today stock car racing is the main attraction. What is gained in endurance sports car racing is the ability to take machines to their absolute limit making competition not only about expert driving but also advanced engineering.


Children can definitely attend this movie but some tragic car crashes take place. But mostly this movie is family friendly. The oldsters will remember these guys, and everyone will enjoy seeing America at its zenith in manufacturing and competition.