Ben Oliver

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Ford v Ferrari

You’re gonna build a car to beat Ferrari with… a Ford.
20 March 2024

The story of car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and racing driver (Christian Bale), hired by Ford to take on Ferrari at Le Mans.

The alternative title Le Mans ‘66 is perhaps more appropriate here since there is very little Ferrari in this film, just a bunch of comedy Italians in a few scenes.

It’s a strange story in a way, one of Americans using cash to beat down their opponents purely for commercial gain, and yet it’s told like an underdog story.

For better and for worse it follows all the classic biopic beats; the ‘suits’ in corporate ruining things, the wife and kid back home, the maverick racer willing to risk it all for victory… it’s a screenplay largely on auto-pilot building up to its final fancy race scene. It’s all playing it very safe and it all mostly works fine.

Strangely enough there’s a dearth of technical detail or even a token ‘making a car’ montage. After a lot of talk the car sort of appears, it’s bad, then it’s good. Yes I’m the sort of person who likes hearing about tedious engineering detail, but I think so do other people when you can pepper it with a bit of Hollywood glitz. It’s cowardly to avoid wanting to get into the weeds about cars, in a film about cars.

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