James Mangold directs Christian Bale, Matt Damon and Jon Bernthal in this sporty retelling of Ford Motors attempt to design and race a winning car at Le Mans, using non-corporate mavericks rather than suits.
A solid bit of Dad Entertainment. Maybe it lacks the emotional pull of Mangold’s best mainstream work. There isn’t the unforced gruff sensitivity and throbbing dedication here that elevated Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma or Logan… even if it is told in the same sweaty, dusty, scrubby accent. Yet the racing flick is a well constructed piece of adult fluff, macho melodrama. I had three problems that left me personally outside the film.
1. Bale’s performance is cranked up to 11 and not always consistent… he enters into Nicolas Cage levels of intensity and gurning without any of that naive charm. He certainly doesn’t gel with Damon’s more robust genial turn. He took me out of the story often… that laboured accent and face contortions…UGH! A fine actor, trying something that didn’t land with the ensemble or me.
2. You get the feeling the real life character with most agency and allure is actually risk taking Ford executive Lee Iacocca (played by a warm and stout Bernthal). To use the perfect film Moneyball as an apt comparison: he is the Billy Beane of the piece, and he kinda sinks into the background once he gambles and puts his team of wildcards in place.
3. I’m not a petrolhead.
Hey-Ho! It is still probably the most well crafted, assured crowdpleaser on at your local multiplex currently. So give it your money.