Sports films are really formulaic, you know what you are getting but that’s not always a bad thing. Especially when you put James Mangold (Logan, 3:10 to Yuma), you might elevate it enough to make a decent film that entertains you just enough to look past its flaws, at least for a little while. It’s entertaining, a bit long but anchored by a great cast that creates compelling characters. A film that will entertain the masses, Ford v Ferrari is nothing extraordinary but it’s also extremely sweet and moving.
Ford v Ferrari assumes that you know nothing about racing, it’s not about educating you really, more about entertaining you. While it does throw around some jargon, they also often dumb it down for you. No, what they know is that you’re here for the races and they do deliver on that front. Those scenes are entertaining, it’s hard not to make them after all. But after a while, they become repetitive. The in-between is what really drags the film, what really brings it down. While there are moments where the film picks up, where it’s able to be as fun as the races, it also becomes a lot of jargon and construction of a car. If I can call the film one thing, I would say that Ford v Ferrari is a dad’s movie, a good one but a dad’s movie nonetheless.
Long, Ford v Ferrari drags a lot, trying to fit in as much as possible in its two and half hours runtime. I think that is the most visible with it’s ending. Films that have two endings aren’t new, they are something that happens quite a lot even. Ford v Ferrari can now be added to the list. Just when the film arrives at what would have been a satisfying ending, it decides to keep going with another 10 or so minutes. It completely took me out of the film. I get that more happened after the race, but because they decided to go further into the two men’s life, the film overstays it’s welcome. I would have been okay with having a little bit more text at the end to say what had happened after.
The always solid Christian Bale and Matt Damon deliver stellar performances. Bale continues his great accent streak, even if at this point it starts to feel like a gimmick. We can’t say he doesn’t do great work because he simply does. His character is the one with the biggest emotional arc and Bale does everything with it. He is the changed man by the end and Bale owns every second he is on screen. But really, the film belongs to Damon who gives one of his finest performances to date. The actor is in fine form, better then he’s been in years. Their chemistry holds up the film the whole time, together they electrify the screen and are able to provide a lot of comedic moments. Without them, the film would have been a lot less interesting and a lot less entertaining.
Ford v Ferrari is what it needs to be. Formulaic but still entertaining and touching. A film that you will watch once, maybe twice and not really revisit after. It’s a film that will entertain you at times and then bore you at others. It overstays it’s welcome but also is thrilling at others. Let’s just say it’s a mixed bag, right down the middle.