A period piece which explores the Ford Motor Company’s venture into the racing scene, the film follows a group of men who are determined to push beyond the limits of practicality. With phenomenal emotion and heart, “Ford v Ferrari” takes the audience along for the ride, giving them the excitement and danger of traveling at extreme speeds.
After he was publicly embarrassed by the Italian-owned Ferrari, a furious Henry Ford II demands the Ford Motor company build a car that can finally defeat the reigning racing champion at the 24-hour Le Mans. Leading the project is the renowned automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), who enlists the help of the controversial driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale). Together with a renowned team, Shelby and Miles hope to create a car to best Ferrari.
The film is a true testament to mankind’s obsession with racing and the concept of reaching an impractical speed. The film succeeds phenomenally at visualizing this concept, as it explores the profound relationship between man and machine. The director, James Mangold, primarily explores this idea through Miles, who explains how achieving the breakneck speeds allows people to feel more alive despite their imminent danger. Miles’ fixation on attaining absolute perfection is convincingly conveyed, as the audience understands this is a man who will put his life on the line to achieve the same level of greatness as the vehicle he helped build. It is the relationship these men hold, with each other but more so with the machine, which brings an intense depth in showing how connected they are to the sport.
One surprising element is how much the film focuses more on the business aspects compared to the actual racing. Shelby and his team have been hired for this job by an imposing corporation, where the businessmen are not as worried about the craft of their work as they are about seeing results. The film’s exploration of the team’s work helps to bring a profoundness to the racing, as they tackle every action taken toward improving their vehicle after vaulting over numerous obstacles. The film highlights how people gain power within the corporation and how unkempt they are in their efforts to take advantage of others. It’s notable that the film is willing to explore these business dealings, as it helps to enrich the events throughout the rest of the movie.
All of these factors are escalated by heart pounding racing scenes that succeed in putting the audience in the moment. The film composes the driving scenes in a way that showcases the speed of the car, as an exhilarating sensation meets the audience. The sequences let viewers feel every decision in the moment, but the movie also does this in a cinematic scope which clearly shows the big picture of everything that is happening.
From the imagery in showcasing the movement of the car to the sound exhibiting how the engine is pushing the vehicle, the audience is able to sit next to the driver, feeling the full force of the world around him. The movie excels at creating that feeling of flying that its characters consistently discuss, as it builds up the concept of driving before showing the audience what it feels like. These scenes are real stand out moments that exemplify the fast-paced movement, where the viewers feel like they are in that moment
The racing scenes alone elevate the film’s ability to draw its viewers into the heat of the moment, putting them inside the cockpit next to racing legends. The portrayal of the surge of racing is noteworthy, as the movie is dynamically shot to put the viewers in the moment. But these racing are made even more poignant thanks to the film’s willingness to explore its characters and the obstacles they face. Seeing the in-house challenges that the Shelby team has to overcome makes their achievements all the more momentous, knowing that they are being challenged by more than just physics. It’s this combination of heart and accomplishment that makes the film all the more impactful.