|Ford v Ferrari|
|Directed by||James Mangold|
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Ford v Ferrari (titled Le Mans '66 in the UK and other territories) is a 2019 American sports drama film directed by James Mangold, and written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller. It stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale, while Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, and Ray McKinnon appear in supporting roles.
The plot follows an eccentric, determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles, who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building the Ford GT40, a new racing car with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari racing team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. In early stages of the film's production, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were cast in the starring roles, but those plans fell through. Mangold was then hired in February 2018, and Damon, Bale, and the rest of the cast joined that summer. Filming began in July 2018 in California and lasted a little over two months.
Ford v Ferrari had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on August 30, 2019, and is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on November 15, 2019, by 20th Century Fox. The film received positive reviews from critics, who lauded the performances and racing sequences.
In 1963, Ford Motor Company Vice President Lee Iacocca proposes to Henry Ford II to purchase the cash-strapped Ferrari as a means to boost their car sales by participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Enzo Ferrari, however, walks out of the deal, as Fiat offers him a more lucrative deal that allows him to retain his ownership of Scuderia Ferrari. A furious Henry II orders his racing division to build a car to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans. For this task, Iacocca hires Shelby Automobiles owner Carroll Shelby, a racing driver who won Le Mans in 1959, but was forced to retire due to his heart condition. In turn, Shelby enlists the help of Ken Miles, a hot-tempered British racer and struggling mechanic.
Shelby and Miles test the Ford GT40 Mk I prototype at Los Angeles International Airport, working out all of its design flaws until it is race ready. Seeing that Miles is not their ideal driver, Ford opts to send Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren to the 1964 Le Mans instead. As predicted by Miles, none of the Fords finish the race. While Henry II sees this as a humiliating defeat, Shelby explains to him that the GT40 instilled fear in Ferrari, as it reached 218 mph on the Mulsanne straight before it broke down. Shelby and Miles continue development on the GT40 Mk II, but Miles is nearly killed when the car's brakes fail during testing. In 1966, Ford Senior Vice President Leo Beebe takes over the racing division, with the intent to continue the program without Miles, but Shelby gives Henry II a ride in the car and wages his own company on the line to convince him that if Miles wins the 24 Hours of Daytona, he will win Le Mans.
The Ford racing team with Miles enters Daytona, but Beebe has a second Ford entered with NASCAR team Holman-Moody supporting it. While the Holman-Moody team has quicker pit stops, Shelby has Miles push his car's limit to 7,000 RPM, resulting in him winning the race.
At the 1966 Le Mans, Miles struggles with a faulty door during the first lap, but after team engineer Roy Lunn fixes the door with a mallet, Miles begins to set lap records while catching up with the Ferraris. While racing with Ferrari driver Lorenzo Bandini, Miles experiences brake failure and has his brakes replaced during his pit stop. Enzo Ferrari protests the move, but Shelby convinces the race officials that the brake change is legal. Miles and Bandini once again duel on the Mulsanne Straight until Bandini blows his engine, completely eliminating Ferrari in the race. With three Ford teams in the top-three positions, Beebe orders Shelby to have Miles slow down for the other two Fords to catch up with him and provide the press with a three-car photo finish. Miles is initially against this decision, continuing to set new lap records near the end of the race, but decides to let Ford have their way on the final lap. Ultimately, McLaren is declared the winner, but Miles is grateful to Shelby for giving him the opportunity to race at Le Mans.
While testing the J-car at Riverside International Raceway, Miles once again experiences brake failure and is killed in the resulting crash. Six months later, Shelby pays Miles' widow Mollie and son Peter a visit and gives Peter a wrench that Miles threw at him before winning an SCCA race at Willow Springs in 1963. Ford would continue its winning streak at Le Mans in 1967, 1968, and 1969, becoming the only American manufacturer to win the prestigious race. Miles would be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001.
- Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby, an American automotive designer and engineer
- Christian Bale as Ken Miles, a British World War II veteran and a professional race car driver
- Caitriona Balfe as Mollie Miles, Miles's wife
- Jon Bernthal as Lee Iacocca, vice-president of Ford
- Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II, the CEO of Ford
- Josh Lucas as Leo Beebe, a Ford executive
- Noah Jupe as Peter Miles, Miles's son
- Remo Girone as Enzo Ferrari, founder of the Italian automobile racing team Scuderia Ferrari and sports car manufacturer Ferrari.
- Ray McKinnon as Phil Remington
- JJ Feild as Roy Lunn, a Ford engineer involved in the GT40 program
- Gian Franco Tordi as Head of Security for Gianni Agnelli, president of Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat and Ferrari
- Jack McMullen as Charlie Agapiou
- Benjamin Rigby as Bruce McLaren, a New Zealand professional race car driver and Miles's race teammate
- Joe Williamson as Donald N. Frey, Chief Engineer of Ford
- Alex Gurney as Dan Gurney, an American professional race car driver and car constructor
- Corrado Invernizzi as Franco Gozzi
- Wallace Langham as Dr. Granger
A film based on the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari for the dominance at the Le Mans endurance race has long been in works at 20th Century Fox. Initially, it was going to star Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt from an original screenplay by Jason Keller, but the project fell apart after writers Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth drafted a script and Joseph Kosinski was brought on to direct.
On February 5, 2018, it was announced that James Mangold had been brought on board to direct the film based on the previous script by Jason Keller, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth. Later, Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, and Noah Jupe joined the cast alongside Christian Bale and Matt Damon in the lead roles. In July 2018, Jack McMullen was cast in the film to play one of Miles's key British mechanics, and Tracy Letts also joined to play Henry Ford II, along with Joe Williamson. In August 2018, JJ Feild was cast in the film to play the automotive engineer Roy Lunn, the head of Ford Advanced vehicles in England and the right-hand man to Henry Ford II. Composer Marco Beltrami confirmed in an interview that he would be scoring the film, Beltrami having previously worked with Mangold on 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine and Logan.
Ford v Ferrari premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on August 30, 2019, and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2019. It is scheduled to be released in the United States on November 15, 2019, in 2D, IMAX 2D, and Dolby Cinema by 20th Century Fox. It was previously scheduled to be released on June 28.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 136 reviews, with an average rating of 7.61/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Ford v Ferrari delivers all the polished auto action audiences will expect -- and balances it with enough gripping human drama to satisfy non-racing enthusiasts." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film a "B", saying that "Ford v Ferrari excels at evoking the sheer thrill of the race—'a body moving through space and time,' as one character says—and it's compelling enough in those moments to make the case that nothing beats the thrill of competition." Variety's Peter DeBruge praised the racing sequences and the performances of Bale and Damon, writing: "The best sports movies aren't so much about the sport as they are the personalities, and these two go big with their performances."
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