On the face of it a two and a half hour film about a 24 hour race that took place in 1966 does not sound that thrilling. You could not be more wrong as, like Rush back in 2013, it is hugely entertaining both on and off the track for petrol heads and non petrol heads alike. The story is centred around Ford’s attempt to beat ferrari and win the 1966 Le Mans, and they do this with the help of – amongst others – engineer/designer Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale). They come against resistance initially from Henry Ford II – a rather brilliant Tracy Letts – and consistently from senior executive Leo Beebe – a slimy twerp adeptly played by Josh Lucas – who both want Miles dropped in favour of a more PR friendly driver.
The film is full of larger than life characters which keeps things ticking along off the starting grid, with the best source of friction coming from Miles and Shelby. It is an antagonistic bromance that occasionally slips over into violence, with a particularly amusing set to happening whilst Miles is laden with groceries – acting as a nice opportunity to advertise wonder bread and campbell’s soup.
The racing scenes are second to none, you get overtaking, wheel to wheel clashes, spins and crashes. You really get a sense of the insane speeds they are travelling at and the inherent danger involved. It is visceral, edge of your seat stuff and helps the two and a half hours fly by. The acting is stellar as well, with Matt Damon and Christian Bale doing a stand up job – hell even Bales’ Brummie accent is roughly right. Caitriona Balfe plays Miles’ wife Mollie with aplomb, I just wish she had more to do. His awestruck, racing mad son Peter is Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place), this lad has a big career ahead of him.
Director James Mangold (Logan) has created a hugely entertaining film full of drama, thrills and spills topped off with a moving, bittersweet ending. You will leave the cinema gasping for a cuppa though, Typhoo must have paid through the nose for advertising.