Le Mans ‘66 (2019)
This film is like the cars it portrays. Slick on the surface, but complicated underneath. Yes it’s a story born of corporate ambition in horn rimmed glasses and dark suits, driven by pride and stubbornness, but the heart of it is pure racing, to hell with money, marketing, good looks, any of that. I’ve watched half of this with my foot planted to the floor. The driving scenes are awesome, the roar of untamed engines (turn your sound up as loud as you dare!), shifting gears into blindness inducing speeds. Fast cars alone though can’t carry a film, but thankfully the cast here is as great as the cars. Damon is very good as the lynchpin Shelby, as he drags Ford away from mass production and onto the racetrack to challenge Ferrari’s dominance. Bale though, Bale is magnificent. His portrayal of somewhat renegade driver Ken Miles is the oil in the engine, the comic undertones with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. He literally drives this. The pacing is spot on, balancing the boardroom with the tarmac perfectly, all done with some good ol‘ rock ’n’ roll blasting out as men do manly things. It’s a show piece with Ferrari painted as the bad guy. I’m fine with that. Yes the cars look sexy, “If this were a beauty pageant, we just lost”, but gimme the brute force of the Ford GT40 any day. There’s a ton of excitement and energy before the cars even get to Le Mans, but seeing that GT tear up the French countryside gets the heart pounding. Doesn’t matter that I already knew the outcome, it’s still exhilarating with some of the best racing scenes in any film, ever! Stunning.