Ford v Ferrari

Nov 18, 2019

My fav car-racing flick of all time.

Ford V Ferrari

Grade: A

Director: James Mangold (The Wolverine)

Screenplay: Jez Butterworth (Black Mass) et al.

Cast: Matt Damon (The Martian), Christian Bale (Vice)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 2 h 32 min

By: John DeSando

“It isn't about speed.” Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) to Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal).

Just as that statement from the world-class car designer is a poignant reminder of the complexity in car racing of the mid ‘6o’s, so too is it about the newest car-racing thriller, Ford V Ferrari. The film combines some of the best racing ever seen on screen with the best of buddy adventures.

It is now my favorite (I previously favored Steve McQueen’s Le Mans), reminding me of a great Western mixed with a great duo, such as Paul Newman and Robert Redford from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There’s even a scene of the two heroes facing off the suits like a Western gunfight about to happen.

Matt Damon as Shelby is at his best cajoling Christian Bale, consummate actor, as legendary driver Ken Miles. Together they fight and joke accompanying their goal of beating the Ferrari juggernaut at the 24 hour Le Mans of 1966.

With Tracy Letts playing an imperious but insightful Henry Ford II (“This isn't the first time Ford Motors' gone to war. We know how to do more than push papers. Go ahead, Carroll. Go to war.”), the cast is incomparable, forwarding the suspense inherent in the testy cars and power races behind investors and manufacturers. Director James Mangold and the successful writing team keep the 2/12 hours moving thrillingly with a consistent sense of humor and manic competition between Italy and the US and driver versus driver.

Ford V Ferrari is the best character-driven action of the year and my favorite race car film of all time.

“We're lighter, we're faster, and if that don't work, we're nastier.” Shelby

If that doesn’t sound like a snarly, character-driven Western, then you’ve never seen The Magnificent Seven.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at