Simple Review: ” If you ain’t first, you’re last!”
This may be a first in the long and storied history of The Movie Psycho movie review blog: reviewing two good movies in a row! I could go back through my older posts and check but I am far too lazy to waste my time on such things as research so let’s just go with my initial theory. After enjoying the somewhat flawed Doctor Sleep, I went to see the latest film from one of my favorite actors, Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari. Imagine my delight as I walked out of the theater knowing that I will actually be able to recommend two movies…in a row! I like to inflate my ego by imagining that Hollywood big wigs are reading my reviews and have realized their movie-making mistakes and are now going to put out quality films instead of cash grabs. Hey, it is my blog and my fantasy, if you don’t like it start your own damn blog. Sorry, my A.D.D is kicking in so let’s steer this review onto the track and pray to Tom Cruise that we make it to the finish line.
I like to think that our relationship is more than just reviewer and reader and instead picture us as good friends with whom I can share bits of my life with. Other movie reviewers don’t do that because they simply don’t care about you, but I cherish our interactions as if you were family. Having said that, allow me to open a little more of my life with you and share that my dad is a “car guy” and my son is also a “car guy”. That gene skipped a generation leaving me with a love of useless movie knowledge instead of a hobby I could actually use in the “real world”. Despite not having that car fetish, I have been around it enough to love the sound of a loud engine in a fast car and I also have a passing knowledge of key figures in the car world such as Carroll Shelby. If there were a Mt. Rushmore of car legends Shelby would undoubtedly be on it. When I saw the preview for Ford v Ferrari I was excited to see a bit of automotive history on the big screen and I was not disappointed by the results.
Director James Mangold brings us the story of car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles as they try to help Ford motor company build a car to defeat those pesky Ferrari’s at the historic 24 hours of Le Mans race during the 1960s. I am not going to drag this review out as this is just a damn good movie! Mangold has delivered an exciting, funny and surprisingly emotional look into the lives of men that risked life and limb to push the envelope of auto racing. Before you non-car lovers bail on this review let me tell you that despite the subject matter this is a movie that will keep you glued to the screen throughout the two and a half hour runtime. If you look at this as just another car movie and pass then that is your loss because there is more to this film than you might think. There is a real heart to this movie as characters deal with marriages, father/son relationships and battle corporate bureaucracy that give this movie more weight than some other directors would have put on the screen.
Mangold has assembled a stellar cast that will undoubtedly be recognized come award season. Christian Bale steals the movie as hard-headed English race car driver Ken Miles. Bale seems to be having a blast playing this character injecting Miles with humor and a loving warmth for those important people in his life, and utter disdain for anyone that crosses him. I enjoy Bale’s work in general and it was nice to see a lighter version of him instead of his normal more dramatic characters. Surprisingly, Matt Damon holds in own against Bale’s performance. Damon’s Carroll Shelby is a salesman thru and thru and when it comes to what he wants he has the right amount of arrogant stubbornness and craftiness to get it. This role fits nicely in Damon’s wheelhouse and I would love to see him play Shelby again in a biopic if the powers that be deem it worthy. Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe stand out as Ken Miles’s wife and son, Mollie, and Peter. There is such a great dynamic between Ken, Mollie, and Peter that you are fully invested in everything that happens to Ken during the race scenes because you actually care about him and his family. Crazy what good screenwriting can do for a movie! I could go on and on about the cast but every actor seems pitch-perfect for the role they are playing. Oh, and Jon Bernthal continues to prove he is simply cooler than any of us!
The film itself is expertly crafted with Mangold balancing Ken’s family life with Shelby’s struggles as he deals with Ford’s leaders and the exciting car racing element damn near perfectly. I said earlier that this movie is well over two hours long and at no time did it ever feel that way. If you aren’t laughing at the comedy in the film, such as the most hilarious “fight” scene I have seen in a while, then you will be gripping the armrests in the chair as you are put in the 200 mph ( sorry I am an American I don’t do kmh) race care with Ken Miles. If I were to nitpick the film a little I would say some of the corporate “bad guys” were a bit cartoony and there is a natural stopping point that the film goes past which kind of alters the mood a bit. ( trying to avoid any spoilers!) Those, however, are small gripes in an otherwise flawless movie.
Look, I could drone on and on but let me make this easy for you, GO SEE THIS MOVIE!! Trust me, even if you aren’t excited about the subject matter this is a touching, funny underdog story that will have you cheering hard for good old Ken and Carroll Shelby to stick it to those cocky Ferrari guys! Besides, who knows when Hollywood will put out another quality film again so we better take advantage of it now.
I hope you enjoyed this silly, rambling review and come on back for my next foray into the movie reviewing world.
As always, thanks for your time!
The Movie Psycho