Ford v. Ferrari.
Certainly a good racing film, and a great men's film. And most importantly, as @_Jules_ put it, "a racing movie that's not about chavs".
So let's start with the good:
- Brilliantly shot racing scenes, brilliant styling. I would gladly wear something from Carrol Shelby's wardrobe to work every day, and would love to have Henry Ford II's mid-century design wet dream of an office.
- From all accounts I've read, Enzo Ferrari's portrait is spot-on.
- The acting is superb from Damon (who indeed looks more like Leo DiCaprio the older he gets - or does DiCaprio look more like Damon?) and especially Bale, who gives a stellar performance as socially challenged Brit Ken Miles, even when he crosses the line into chewing scenery. It really helps the movie that the leading pair has a great chemistry with each other - you get a real feeling that they've spent the last ten years together working, winning, losing, fighting and making up.
- Reducing the team sport of endurance racing to one driver and his relationship to Carrol Shelby feels off in some moments, as for the uninformed moviegoer it might look like Ken Miles would be behind the wheel non-stop for 24 hours, but especially since Miles was not only a driver, but also a key figure in designing all of Shelby's cars, it makes sense dramatically.
- I love how the American "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" approach to racing is employed by Shelby, not only always being half a step ahead of the stewards and their rulebook, but also not being beyond playing some pranks that throw spanners into the well-oiled pit machinery of his rival teams.
- I enjoyed how on-track action is consequently reduced to the point of view of Shelby and Miles - what they can't see, we can't, no matter whether it's some irrelevant crash in the opening stage of Le Mans that to them is only smoke rising on the horizon or a more significant crash towards the end of the film.But there's also the bad:
- It is important to the tonality of the movie and how it feels "real" that Miles' death is not shown as a tragedy, but as him dying doing the one thing in his life he really enjoys - not only racing cars, but working hard to make the cars he races go even faster.
- Lee Iaccoca, one of the legends of the American automotive industry, who gave us not only the GT40, but also the Mustang and the Pinto, is hardly used as a character.
- By focusing a lot on a "down-to-earth racers vs. Ford corporate suits" dynamic, the "v. Ferrari" part of the title, as well as the bigger "USA v. Europe" picture, sometimes gets lost.Final verdict from my end is something like 7/10 - good movie, certainly not great movie. It's not as bad as the "Days of Thunder, but Sixties" comparisons floating around makes you believe, but it does not deliver the same emotional connection to the drivers and their motivations "Rush" did (see spoiler above).
- This gets even more annoying when you realize how many changes from real-world history have been introduced to make this about suits vs. racers, for example that Ken Miles of course was not banned from racing Le Mans in 1965 and that he got screwed out of the victory in '66 not by meddling management, but by French race officials hell-bent on punishing the arrogant American for their "photo finish" idea.
- The obvious attempt to outdo Dominic Torettos "10 seconds or less" monologue with the "7000 rpm" monologue that bookends the film falls flat on it's face, partly, but not only, due to the insignificance of an rpm number for speed. This is especially sad since the monologue clearly is also supposed to explain to us why these men risk their lives in the high-risk world of racing cars, a question that with the monologue being shit stays unanswered, leaving an emotional void.
- What's the matter with Miles' kid being around all the time? Doesn't he have to attend school? Was home-schooling already invented back in the sixties? It's very stupid and unnecessary.
I'd say it is on a par with Rush. The problem I had with that film was the glaring errors in the movie, particularly with the vehicles, which since it was aimed at least in part to petrol heads you would think they would have got right.
1. Renault 5 and MkII Transit in a scene set in 1972.
2. UK registered MkII Cortina in a scene supposedly at Watkins Glenn.
3. Hunt talking on the phone about a drive during the closed season, when it's clear mid summer outside the window.
There are others, those are just what I remember since it's been a while since I last watched.
The period detail in Le Mans 66 is a great deal better, and I personally didn't spot any cars that were out of the time period.
Period detail, yes - factual detail, on the other hand...
Ken Miles died behind the wheel of the radical "J-Car" prototype, which looks like this:
While the dialogue references the "honeycomb" material used (incorrectly credits it to Miles, though) the car he is is shown driving clearly is a bog standard GT40.
I can understand the production side decision not to build a replica of a prototype only nerds know about for 20 seconds of screen time, but if we are nitpicking, this is much more significant than some wrong model year background cars...
Well you just vindicated the decision with what you said.
Also Bales accent for the character of Miles was not only incorrect, it managed to travel from London's East End to the Yorkshire Dales via Birmingham, Staffordshire and Lancashire!!
In reality he was actually quite "posh", well spoken mid 1950s British as this video shows
I appreciate they made him sound more working class to fit in with the character being portrayed, but an actor of Bale's calibre should be able to pick one accent and stick to it.
But isn't he...like...British?
Or was he doing the "wrong" British accent?
Fair point.Our Northwestern Germans, from @DanRoM or @shad_68 all the way to @MacGuffin @Eye-Q and me, would certainly have challenges to give a good impression of Walter Röhrl's Bavarian-colored speech patterns, even though we all are German. So being a Welshman not really helped him I guess.