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Wick's Review

Created Nov 27, 2019 06:27AM PST • Edited Apr 20, 2021 09:03AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    A whip-smart script about whip-smart people doing world historic things in super-cool cars going 200 MPH makes Ford v Ferrari perhaps the best sports biopic ever. Its perfect cast is led by a perfect Matt Damon.

    Granted, the moviemakers had loads to work with given how iconic was the Ford GT40 race car, its creator Carroll Shelby and its crucible of Le Mans. Each of those names has long echoed throughout car culture.

    The Ford GT was the coolest car. Its distinctive double blue racing stripe down the middle of the body became THE RACING STRIPE, while the Ford Mustang contemporaneously became THE HOTTEST CAR. This was terrific stunt marketing, auto racing being the goto stunt in Maranello and then in Dearborn.

    Indeed, Ford v Ferrari transcends the sports genre because it is equally a business biopic on par with The Social Network, another perfect picture. Director James Mangold and his three-headed writing crew of the Butterworth Brothers plus young Jason Keller have minted a masterpiece, simply a monumental movie.

    Big personalities running big engines for big money make Ford v Ferrari big fun on big movie screens.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Matt Damon is nails as the legendary Carroll Shelby, American automotive god. Damon is especially well suited playing aw-shucks men who then step-up to do supermanly things. Shelby more than qualifies.

    Christian Bale is best playing live-wire characters, which the legendary Ken Miles was. Miles lived and died for the Ford GT40, getting in plenty of fights along the way, an amped-up level of energy that brings out the best in Bale, in similar fashion to his strung-out boxer alongside Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter.


    • Caitriona Balfe is flat out terrific as the 1960s wife of a race driver. Baife’s self-assured, strong and sexy performance adds up to another s-word: STAR. Now how to pronounce her name?
    • Noah Jupe is touching as a race driver’s young son.
    • Jon Bernthal as a young and lean Lee Iacocca, the legendary auto executive.
    • Tracy Letts nearly eats the scenery as Hank the Deuce (aka Henry Ford II, the CEO of Ford Motor Company), but pulls it off. Letts is more famous as a playwright, including August Osage County.
    • Josh Lucas is oily gravitas personified as Leo Beebe, 2nd only to Hank the Deuce at Ford.
    • Remo Girone conveys the legendary Enzo Ferrari’s enigmatic gravitas. ENZO was of course the founder of Ferrari and its champion racing team Scuderia Ferrari.
    • Drivers: Benjamin Rigby as Bruce McLaren and Dan Gurney’s son Alex Gurney as Dan Gurney
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Perfect 5.0

    This terrific film lays down marker after marker, only to pick each up later, paying off every one. One of them is red-hot, glowering from the four corners of a hot race car, proving that exposition needn’t bore.

    Mangold and the Butterworth Brothers wisely narrow the focus of their film to two men, Shelby & Miles, thereby keeping it human scale. Spielberg also took a narrow approach with his Lincoln.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Jez & John-Henry Butterworth are masters of biopic scripts. As they did with Get On Up, the terrific biopic of the King of Soul, they’ve once again turned in a very fun screenplay: fun but sobering and downright respectful when it needs to be.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
    • 2 dozen stunt drivers, plus twice that many stuntmen
    • Perfect sixties touches, even to how Ken Miles’ wife snaps open a folding lawn chair.
  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.0
  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Gentle 1.0
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.0
  18. Glib 1.2

    Ford v Ferrari futzes with its circoreality for some dramatic leverage, but not too much, even as it appears to play straight with the bioreality and especially the physioreality. History-vs-Hollywood has details.

    Of more interest is the lens this biopic shines on both the Sixties and how we’ve changed since. To wit, it shows real men from the Madmen era doing manly things, expressing emotions as men did, with few tears and more than a few violent outbursts, plus a fair amount of drinking.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.6
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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