Movie Review: “Ford v Ferrari”

An unexpectedly great story about Americans being upset with Italians



An underdog of a story for an underdog storyline


For the sports edition of the Daily Evergreen, I want to review one of my favorite sports movies of all time, “Ford v Ferrari.” When this movie came out in 2019, I was skeptical about going to watch it in the theater; a two-and-a-half-hour movie … about racing? I wasn’t sold.

The only movie about racing I had seen (or wanted to see for that matter) was the Disney-Pixar smash hit, “Cars.” Oh, how I was surprised by this movie.

This story is told beautifully. Matt Damon and Christian Bale deliver powerhouse performances in their roles as Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. This is based on the true story of the Ford Motor Company competing against Ferrari at the 24 Hours at Le Mans race in 1963.

Ken Miles (played by Bale) is a brash British racecar driver/mechanic who is pretty down on his luck. Carroll Shelby (played by Damon) was a former racecar driver who had to retire from racing due to his deteriorating health.

“Ford v Ferrari” is able to tell this “American underdog” style of story really well, keeping it dramatic but seemingly accurate to the real event.

The story starts with Ford struggling financially, so Henry Ford II tasks his employees to come up with a new, groundbreaking idea to propel the company into the future.

Employee Lee Iacocca played by Josh Lucas pitches the idea of high-level competitive racing to Henry Ford II, who doesn’t seem to be a huge fan. Iacocca flies out to Italy to meet with Ferrari, who insults Iacocca, Ford II and Ford as a whole.

The plot pivots back to Miles, who is teetering on retirement but is talked back into racing by Shelby, who wants Miles’ help to work on the new racecar that Ford is developing and to race it at Le Mans.

I have watched a fair share of drag races, which are a lot of fun because the cars go really fast in a straight line but seeing how the engineers in the movie had to build the cars to maneuver the corners and road conditions at Le Mans is an interesting contrast to the racing that I have personally seen.

Christian Bale is one of the best actors of our time, he fully commits to every role that he takes on, whether he bulked up for the “Dark Knight” trilogy or only ate tuna to lose weight for “The Machinist,” Bale gives another great performance in “Ford v Ferrari.”

The first big conflict in the movie is when high-up executives at Ford decide to not invite Miles to the race because of “marketing issues.” Damon’s character Shelby had to be the one to deliver the news to Miles, which is brutal because it was Shelby who wanted Miles on the consulting and racing teams.

It is revealed that Ford didn’t do very well in the race that year and Henry Ford II threatened to shut down the whole racing department. After convincing Shelby, Ford II decides to keep the department running and delivers the line, “This isn’t the first time Ford has gone to war in Europe,” referring to the help that Ford gave to the United States during World War II.

I will leave the back third of the movie for you to watch, dear reader but there are twists and turns and lots of horsepower.

This is a very human story about one of the most iconic brands in American history and about beating the odds. I won’t spoil the outcome of the second race at Le Mans, but it evokes a lot of emotion.