I am no fan of motor sports, but I sure do like movies about auto racing, and this is a good one.
In the early 1960s, cars made by Ferrari dominated Le Mans, a 24-hour endurance race. Lee Iacocca, who had just introduced the Mustang, wanted Ford to move into the racing business, to improve their image. Henry Ford II, his boss, was skeptical, but changed his mind after Enzo Ferrari’s scornful rejection of Ford’s attempt to buy the Italian company. Ford hired Carroll Shelby, at the time the only American to win at Le Mans, to design a car that could win for Ford. Shelby enlisted Ken Miles, an auto mechanic turned racing driver who had a particular genius for understanding what a car’s engine was capable of. Guess what happens.
Matt Damon and Christian Bale are wonderful as Shelby and Miles. Tracy Letts does a good job as the self-important, easily offended Ford. The racing scenes, many shot from the driver’s viewpoint, gave you a good sense of what it must be like to be inside one of these high-performance, high-risk vehicles. There are a couple of marginal female characters, but the closest this film has to a sex scene is two guys fighting over a bag of groceries.
There’s nothing particularly profound here, but the movie is a good ride, consistently entertaining.