Le Mans ’66 Review
Twentieth Century Fox
What’s It About?
With Ferrari dominating the racing world in the 1960s, ego forces Henry Ford II to act and take them on in Le Mans, with the help of two mavericks – American car designer Carroll Shelby and British driver Ken Miles.
Who’s In It?
Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, American Hustle, & more recently Vice)
Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Departed, & more recently Downsizing)
Other notables include:
Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, The Wolf Of Wall Street, & more recently Widows)
Caitriona Balfe (Outlander, Money Monster, & more recently The Dark Crystal)
Director: James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted, Walk The Line, 3:10 To Yuma, & Logan)
Despite an underwhelming name change for the UK from Ford vs Ferrari to Le Mans ’66, James Mangold’s latest project is an eye-catching, gripping film about artistic flair versus corporate pragmatism.
No doubt based on personal experience, this story is set in the world of racing in the 1960s where the Ford motor car is a staple for your regular consumers, but lacks the glamour and excitement of owning the glitzy Ferrari – synonymous with winning particularly Le Mans.
And so Ford exec Lee Iacocca manages to persuade Henry Ford II to go toe to toe with Ferrari and build from scratch a car that would be capable of beating those Italians, even if it does involve hiring maverick American car designer Carroll Shelby and the even more wayward British driver Ken Miles.
As the two men edge closer to bringing this dream to reality, corporate suits, namely Leo Beebe, are in danger of dismantling everything that everyone has worked so hard to deliver. Wolverine anyone?
Matt Damon is typically reliable as the easy going but fiercely competitive Shelby, while Christian Bale is all ticks and expletives as northerner Ken Miles, and the two form a great on screen presence, but in truth it is Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II who threatens to steal the film with his performance. Disappointly, however, there is little scope for Caitriona Balfe as Miles’ wife, and there is virtually no backstory for Shelby.
Despite the fact that much of the film is set in a garage, factory or on the race track, Le Mans ’66 manages to grab the attention of non racing fans thanks to the central premise of artistic flair vs corporate behaviour. It’s no Rush, but it’s still a gripping piece of cinema.
In A Nutshell:
Beautifully shot, with two great leads, and an engaging story, Le Mans ’66 rushes along at quite the pace.
Tracy Letts’ scene-stealing portrayal as Henry Ford II
The driving sequences
Some of the characters are underdeveloped such as Miles’ wife, and even Caroll Shelby
Certificate: 12 / 12A