The first official trailer has dropped for 20th Century Fox's Ford v Ferrari, set to open on November 15, six long months away. Every now and then, Hollywood decides to make a movie about fast cars that isn't furiously cartoonish, and when that happens, car guys and gals get practically Pavlovian in their anticipation. It happened with Ron Howard's Rush, and now car enthusiasts are salivating for Ford v Ferrari. From the looks of the trailer, the film may very well slake their hunger.
Directed by James Mangold, and starring Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as racer Ken Miles, Ford v Ferrari is the story of the grudge match at Le Mans in the 1960s, fueled by Henry Ford II's response to Enzo Ferrari double-crossing him when he tried to buy Enzo's company.
Based on A.J. Baime's outstanding book, Go Like Hell, the tale of how Shelby and Miles fought to beat Ferrari provides the backing plot for the movie. (The two also struggled to deal with corporate bureaucracy at Ford and work out their own conflicts. In one scene in the trailer, Miles punches Shelby right in the nose.)
“It's these two friends figuring out how do you deal with these a-holes in suits who know nothing about racing,” Mangold says.
Ford engineer Roy Lunn put Shelby in charge of the GT40 Le Mans effort after HFII was embarrassed by an initial string of losses in the high profile project as the car was being developed. Miles, a gifted driver, was the primary development driver for Ford's Le Mans program and his story provides much of the film's dramatic arc, including the controversial 1-2-3 photo finish that Ford staged to end the 1966 race, inadvertently depriving Miles of the victory.
People like stories about people better than they like stories about machines. As exciting as the Ford GT40 and its contemporary race cars are, and as compelling and dangerous as racing was in that era, Mangold's film is primarily about the relationship between Shelby (the Texan) and Miles (the British expat).
"This is much more of a relationship movie and less a historical document,” Mangold told Entertainment Weekly. Ford v Ferrari may not be a documentary, but Mangold's finely-crafted Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line, was fairly close to the truth, so we should expect some historical accuracy. The cars in the trailer sure look period-correct, with some small deviations.
The true story of Ford versus Ferrari was as much a competition between the men named in the title as it was between their companies and their racing teams. The film could have focused on the titanic struggle between the Deuce and the Drake, but while Henry Ford's grandson and Enzo Ferrari make for compelling characters, it's hard to make either one of those egotists a sympathetic protagonist for a story. We’re hyped to see Bale and Damon bring this story to a mainstream audience.