MOVIE BUFF-ET: Damon, Bale push ‘Ford v Ferrari’ over finish line

Christian Bale and Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari / 20th Century Fox

All I know about cars is how to drive and put gas in them, but that’s more than enough for me to recognize that director James Mangold’s latest effort “Ford v Ferrari” is a crowd-pleasing sports movie that is sure to do well at the box office.

The film is a polished piece of film-making that is not necessarily a “family movie,” it is the type of general-audience movie that adults, teens, and kids should find compelling with the right amount of racing action balanced against heart-felt drama.

The film stars Matt Damon as former racer and a top automotive designer and engineer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as British race car driver and World War II veteran Ken Miles. The two put away a friendly rivalry of sorts to work together for Ford Motor Company to design and build a race car that can top Ferrari at the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans.

Ford v Ferrari

(PG-13) / 2 hr. 32 min.

Now Showing: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight

» Watch trailer

Ford CEO Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) commissions Shelby to build the car after Ferrari spurns an offer from Ford to buy them out for a more lucrative deal with Fiat. Ford believes the best way to get back at Ferrari is to beat him at Le Mans.

Shelby’s struggling company can’t pass up on the offer because of the cash and publicity, but he knows if Ford is to beat Ferrari, it not only needs an improved car but also the right driver.

Shelby pegs the hot-heated Miles, who is working as a mechanic, as that driver. However, Ford marketing executive Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas) has other ideas. He and Shelby butt heads over the image a driver for Ford must project. Their tug of war is even more compelling the than the rivalry between the two vastly different automotive companies.

As often is the case, Bale’s performance as the self-destructive Miles is the key to the movie, and his story arc is filled with minor triumphs and a few travails. Damon and Bale spar with each other over the car, but find true fidelity when Damon sticks up for Wiles to Lucas, who chews a good bit of scenery in a villainous role. Lucas’ performance is fun but a little over-the-top for the rest of the film.

Caitriona Balfe has several solid scenes as Miles’ wife Mollie, and Noah Jupe also adds fine support as Miles’ son Peter, the primary point-of-view character for the film.

The racing action is griping throughout, but takes a bit of backseat to the personal drama. The movie’s tone may be a bit light to garner a great deal of Oscar buzz, but it made for a very entertaining night at the movies.

New In Local Movie Theaters

  • Ford v Ferrari(PG-13) 2 hr. 32 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight
  • Charlie’s Angels(PG-13) 1 hr. 59 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne
  • Parasite(R) 2 hr. 12 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square
  • The Good Liar(R) 1 hr. 49 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills
  • JoJo Rabbit(PG-13) 1 hr. 48 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills

Classic Corner – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


As you may have heard, the Disney + streaming platform made its debut last Tuesday, and more that 10 million have already subscribed. I’m one of the ones who has taken the plunge.

The network contains decades worth of Disney material as well as extensive but not complete libraries from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and National Geographic.

I’ve had great fun this week sampling bits and pieces of what’s available. While I certainly enjoy most of the Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and more contemporary Disney movies, I’ve gotten a kick out of watching some older and beloved Disney fare this week.

One of Disney’s best movies of any period and without a doubt the gem of its live-action films from the 1950s is “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” adapted from Jules Verne’s 19th-century steampunk/sci-fi novel.

It’s the story of the original eco-terrorist Captain Nemo (James Mason) who is disrupting shipping lanes in the Pacific Ocean by attacking vessels with his submarine, the Nautilus, which is being mistaken for a sea monster by survivors.

When their ship is rammed by the Nautilus, Ned a sailer (Kirk Douglas), Prof. Aronnax (Paul Lukas), and Conseil (Peter Lorre) attempt to escape on a life raft, but are taken prisoner by Nemo, who in classic anti-hero style delights in showing of his technology and explaining his tactics before threatening to kill the trio.

The film shot in technicolor is gorgeous with a murky greens and brilliant reds. Though some of them are cheesy — the giant squid — many of the special effects still stand up 65 years later. The movie did win Oscars for set design and Best Special Effects.

Mason truly sets a high bar for later villainous performances in the James Bond franchise and some super hero movies. Douglas is strong as the charismatic sailor Ned, our cantankerous and rowdy hero.

The movie was a strong piece for work by director Richard Fleischer (Fantastic Voyage and Soylent Green) that should provide the family with a fun night of adventure.