LAP DOGS: Matt Damon is automotive designer and engineer Carroll Shelby, and Christian Bale is driver Ken Miles in this biopic about Ford’s bid to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966.

Ford V Ferrari

  • Drama-true story; Cert M, contains offensive language; 2hr 32mins
  • Starring: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, Noah Jupe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, JJ Feild
  • Director: James Mangold

IF the combined star power of Matt Damon and Christian Bale isn’t enough to get you along to this movie, perhaps the raw horsepower of the Le Mans race track will do it for you.

Though the trailer attempts to market this film to viewers as an American underdog success story, it will be difficult for viewers to swallow Ford Motor Company as a drowntrodden tryer.

Yet as this film demonstrates, its chances in taking on the world’s most successful racing team at the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1966 were fairly tenuous.

Fortunately, this film’s focus isn’t on how Henry Ford II took on Enzo Ferrari and won, but how car designer Caroll Shelby (Damon) and legendary British driver Ken Miles (Bale) led the Ford team to victory despite Ford company executives’ interference.

Though it’s a double act between Damon and Bale, Miles’ story is very much in the foreground. Bale, who does simmering rage better than most, injects just the right balance humour and explosive anger into the character as the hot-tempered racer and World War II veteran who Henry II didn’t really approve of driving his cars.

While this film has more than enough action on the track to satisfy motor racing enthusiasts, there is also enough human drama to make the two-and-a-half hours race past for the rest of us.

Henry II is played by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tracy S Letts (August: Osage County). Irish actress Caitriona Balfe (Claire Fraser from Outlander) is Miles’ long-suffering wife, Mollie.

Look out for a neat cameo by racing driving Alex Gurney playing his dad, Dan.

However, Kiwi petrolheads may have to eat their livers a little over Bruce McLaren’s least glorious moment – being played by an Australian actor.

9/10

diane.mccarthy@thebeacon.co.nz