I really didn’t know too much about the race going into this film. It seemed like an interesting movie about two men trying to do a nearly impossible challenge. I was curious why this event was highlighted for a biography, as to me it isn’t a world changing event. The movie does an interesting job of explaining car development through experimentation to develop a better car rather than using raw math. If anything, this film pushes home the idea that conceptual knowledge and practical knowledge are two very different things at times.
The movie starts from Carroll Shelby’s (Matt Damon) perspective as he races. We can see how intense and stressful the race is to him. We learn that Shelby can no longer race because his doctor told him his heart can’t take the stress anymore. We’re taken to another race where Ken Miles (Christian Bale) is arguing about his trunk capacity being compliant. Shelby tries to help advocate for Miles and Miles throws a wrench at Shelby. Miles goes on to win the race, but we get a glimpse of their racing relationship.
We’re introduced to the main conflict by a disgruntled Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts), he’s not happy with how Ford sales have been and wants someone to bring him an idea to increase sales. Lee Iacocca (Jon Berthal) shows that people want fashionable cars and not just functional cars and suggests buying Ferrari. Ford goes to buy Ferrari but Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) turns them down at the last minute insulting the company and Henry Ford II personally. Henry Ford II is infuriated and vows to beat Ferrari at Le Mans. Iacocca is sent to recruit Shelby and his team, offering a “blank check” to build a car that would beat Ferrari at Le Mans.
This film really has a few central dynamics: Ford the company, Shelby’s racing team, and Miles’s family. Shelby and Miles’s relationship are often the highlight, but Shelby is trying to do what’s best for his business and his friend which sometimes conflict with each other. Miles is clearly a great driver and is immensely helpful developing the car, but he can be emotionally extreme and isn’t sure if he should even be a racer at his age. In my opinion, this is one of the best sports films I’ve seen in years. So, I’d recommend it if you want to see an exciting biography. Rated PG-13