James Mangold, director of Wolverine swansong ‘Logan’ is swapping superheroes for steering wheels in his new sports drama ‘Le Mans ’66’. Known in the US by the much cooler title of ‘Ford v Ferrari’ the film follows the rivalry between the two car companies as they compete to design the best racing car in the world and win at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. The story is told from the perspective of Ford as they hope to defeat Ferrari in an attempt to make their brand more desirable to younger customers.
What ‘Le Mans ’66’ does so well is capture the excitement of cars and racing so vividly. The sequences of racing are excellent, each being as thrilling as the last. Those who don’t know the story behind the film are in for even more of a treat as each sequence is truly unpredictable and Mangold brings these moments to life in exhilarating fashion. The drama off the racetrack is equally as engaging though. This story is an interesting part of sports history, consistently told in a captivating way and don’t worry you don’t need to be a petrol-head to keep up! The film also features a nice amount of humour and maybe surprisingly so a lot of heart. Christian Bale portrays driver Ken Miles who is recruited to help with the designing of Ford’s ultimate racing car. The choice as well to cast and include his family within the drama ensures this added element of emotion, enhancing the racing sequences tenfold and making the hefty run-time feel like a new lap record!
The cast is extremely strong across the board. The aforementioned Bale is great as Ken Miles and he shares a superb dynamic with Matt Damon who portrays Carroll Shelby, a designer and engineer hired by Ford. The pair have an electric chemistry which helps keep the film moving at a brisk pace – there’s rarely a dull moment with these two about. Caitriona Balfe & Noah Jupe play Ken’s wife and son, Mollie & Peter. Their endearing performances and convincing chemistry are key to securing the emotional drama of the film and youngster Jupe especially impresses contributing further to his already notable career! The supporting cast is filled out with the likes of Jon Bernthal, who actually racks up some decent screen time for once as well as an excellently cast Josh Lucas as Ford executive Leo Beebe and Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II. It’s a stacked cast and they all deliver but it’s a shame that Miles’ racing partner Denny Hulme was hardly explored, barely even being mentioned despite his seemingly significant contribution to this story.
Nonetheless, this is a small omission in an otherwise excellent sporting drama. Accessible to newcomers & novices, and hopefully providing some intriguing insight for those already familiar with this historic rivalry, ‘Le Mans ’66’ caters to as wide an audience as possible and succeeds in stunning fashion. Make sure to have your cinematic seat-belt secured as this is a sports drama set to have you gripped from the starting line straight through to the finish.
Written by Hamish Calvert
STAR RATING –★★★★
Question: What is your favourite film about cars?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
Thanks for reading this review and please let us know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop us a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.
Thanks to Movie House Cinemas for screening access