Ford v. Ferrari - A Fun American Redemption Story
After watching this movie on Sunday, a clear central narrative struck me that seems to run through the course of this film. It is one of redemption. To start, Lee Iacocca is noted as having had poor sales and marketing performance for the three years prior to the story; Henry Ford II is frustrated with feeling like he can't live up to his father and grandfather's legendary reputations (**spoiler: the mcguffin that convinces him to start the central title competition of the movie); Carroll Shelby had to retire after winning Le Mans due to a bad heart valve; and Ken Miles can't get over his own ego or general disagreeableness in order to be a part of a team. Through the course of this movie, each of these men comes to redeem himself. (**SPOILERS**) Iacocca is able to convince Mr. Ford to invest in a racecar and a competition to further the Ford brand, Ford is able to prove that he can compete with the best car builders in the word, Shelby builds both a team and a car that are capable of winning Le Mans again, and Miles is able to put aside his own ego for the prospects of being part of something bigger than himself. Thus, it stands to reason that the real antagonist of this film is not Ferrari, but rather each man's own demons. (hint: Ford v. Themselves)
The other major aspect of this film is how distinctly American it is. While is does involve a foreign competition and car manufacturer, what is more American than one of the great American car brands going to war and besting a foreign rival in a big-budget car racing action movie? The other question I would pose is: what is more American than redemption or the comeback? We have numerous examples in pop culture and sports of building stars up, tearing them down, then celebrating their comebacks (see Tiger Woods). This was a fun story of overcoming collectively to achieve greatness.
As for the film itself, the acting was collectively well done, but both Matt Damon and especially Christian Bale delivered compelling performances. The score was decent but average. The writing was above average aided by a pretty strong editing performance that made sure no part of the film felt unnecessary or dragging. Overall, a strong film that could garner some awards recognition despite what promises to be a strong field this year. Definitely a fun, engaging American car action movie.
Grade: Worth seeing and rewatchable.