When kicking into high gear, Ford v Ferrari is an explosive sports film of the best kind. When downshifting it definitely has some bumps in the road with building out its characters (though based on real people) to fit in to a movie narrative. However it still moves forward confidently enough for you to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The amazing parts of this are all the scenes involving racing and being locked in a car with the characters. They are wonderfully shot and edited, making you wish to see more and more of them the whole time. When there is motor racing, there is less acting which means stunt drivers need to step up and bring it and they did an exceptional job. Talking about acting, the main stars Christian Bale (Ken Miles) and Matt Damon (Carroll Shelby) perform to their standards while Jon Bernthal (Lee Iacocca) and Noah Jupe (Peter) are a joy to watch as they navigate through some cliche-y scenes with grace. Everything to do with sound is knocked out of the park by the sound department, putting the viewer right in the middle of all the action.
Trying to balance out the action movie-ness, the film introduces quite a bit of classic drama elements in between. Unfortunately much of it comes off as unnecessary and tiring, the characters are poorly introduced and built out (again, even though they are based on real people) and the dramatic dialogue is just there to be dramatic, without ever really adding up to anything. Main examples of this are the scenes involving Miles’ household and the whole character of Leo Beebe who seems to be there only for the sassiness. The score by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders is a frustrating case as it seems to hit perfectly towards the end but in the beginning, it seems distractingly out of place and time with cues that try to belong to 60’s without ever managing to do it.
Smileys: Stunt choreography, editing, sound design
Frowneys: Characterisation, score
Ford v Ferrari is just good ol’ fun, with enough slower moments to grab a beer without missing anything important.