Ford v Ferrari (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Volatile

Ford v Ferrari

Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in Ford v Ferrari.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon have had their fair share of blockbuster roles - from Batman to the Bourne Identity. Now they are both brought together to portray the powerhouse racing team that steered Ford to success in Le Mans ’66.

"While the title of the film, Ford v Ferrari, alludes to a fight being between the two car giants, the main conflict of this tale is the clash between the maverick car culture of the competitive racers and the bureaucratic politics of cut-throat corporate America."

After more than 60 years of existence, the Ford Motor Company is stagnating and in desperate need of rebranding to appeal to the new generation of car buyers. In order to shed their conservative image, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) agrees to an ambitious plan to win Le Mans and snatch the crown from Ferrari.

To stand a chance in this race they turn to the only American to have ever won Le Mans, Carroll Shelby (Damon), who is eager to leave his role as a glorified salesman and build something truly great. Shelby, in turn, enlists the brilliant racer and mechanic, Ken Miles (Bale), whose great talent is offset by his prickly personality that manages to offend nearly everyone around him, except his loving wife Mollie (Caitriona Balfe) and adoring son Peter (Noah Jupe). What ensues is a desperate race to both design the new sports car and drive it to perfection against all the odds.

While the title of the film, Ford v Ferrari, alludes to a fight being between the two car giants, the main conflict of this tale is the clash between the maverick car culture of the competitive racers and the bureaucratic politics of cut-throat corporate America. Shelby and Miles represent the individuals who are brave enough to risk everything to push things to the limits - a pre-requisite for victory. Ford and his executives, Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) and Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), exist in a conservative world of suits, committees, press and publicity. What results is more than just another sports racing drama but a commentary on American culture.

Damon and Bale both deliver strong performances, even generating rumours of potential honours in the upcoming awards season. They manage to bring drama, humour and pathos to the story. Bale, in particular, deftly balances his fiery temper and disdain for the executives with his tenderness towards his family. It is through Bale’s performance as Ken Miles that the most significant theme of the film is conveyed, the importance to strive for perfection even though it constantly eludes us.

Ford v Ferrari features some of the most exhilarating race sequences that have ever been filmed. It is an impressive feat to bring the vintage cars of the era to life with such speed and daring. The thrill of the races is equally matched by the depth of the characters portrayed and the insightful social commentary made. The United States was built on a pioneering spirit and has made its mark on the world with capitalism through corporations; Ford v Ferrari explores the tension between these two ideologies and what can be achieved when both can be harnessed for a greater goal.