It is 1963, and British-born race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), his wife, Mollie (Caitriona Balfe), and son, Peter (Noah Jupe), face ruin when the IRS closes his auto garage. At about the same time, his friend Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), an auto designer and former race car driver who won the famed 24-hour Le Mans car race in France in 1959 and retired early due to heart problems, is approached by Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal).
Iacocca tells Shelby that Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) is getting into the racing business. Iacocca had approached Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) to buy his failing Italian Ferrari race car company but was refused. Ferrari instead merges with Fiat, leaving the Ford Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan, with something to prove.
Just as the Ford Mustang is introduced in 1964, Shelby accepts Ford’s offer to build a race car that can beat a Ferrari and knows the only man who can design and fine-tune such a car and drive it to the finish line: Ken Miles.
Shelby and Miles design, build, and test the Ford GT40 Mk at a track at the Los Angeles International Airport. Miles says the GT40 is not ready and that the car won’t win Le Mans. In fact, Miles is almost killed when the brakes fail during a test drive. Miles and Shelby are disappointed when Ford sends two other drivers to Le Mans and they lose the race.
The team goes back to work to build a car that will win Le Mans. Shelby insists that Miles be the main driver of several teams that Ford sends to Le Mans in 1966. After Miles wins the Daytona 500, he is set for Le Mans. Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), newly named head of the Ford Racing Division, interferes and wants the disrespectful but brilliant Miles out of the way. Shelby prevails, however. At Le Mans, Beebe comes up with a vain idea that puts everything in jeopardy.
Based on a true story, Ford v Ferrari is one of the coolest movies I have seen in a very long time. The film makes car racing look easy but also shows it is the result of high art: poetry, scientific brilliance, hard work, human genius, and great fun all mixed together.
My one criticism is the film’s focus on male characters; there had to have been more than one woman (Mollie) involved in this whole process. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this film in which Matt Damon excels and Christian Bale is absolutely brilliant. I see awards on the horizon.
A-3, PG-13 • Car-racing peril, fistfighting.
Naval intelligence officer Edwin T. Layton (Patrick Wilson) listens as Admiral Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa) tells him the action Japan will take if the United States does not lift its oil embargo put in place to make the Japanese stop their military invasions of Asian countries. It is a few years before World War II begins. Layton warns Washington, DC, about this threat, but no one listens. On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in a surprise attack. The United States enters World War II, and Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) is put in charge of the Pacific fleet. Layton explains Washington’s failure to act on intelligence he and his team provided, and Nimitz encourages him to persevere to prevent another surprise attack.
Layton works closely with a team of cryptologists to break a Japanese navy code. The code confirms that the enemy is on its way to attack Midway Island to destroy the military refueling station and the last military installation protecting the US Pacific coast. In a marvel of naval maneuvers, Nimitz orders the Hornet, Enterprise, and the severely damaged Yorktown from the Coral Sea to Midway within 72 hours, taking the approaching Japanese fleet completely by surprise.
Written by Wes Tooke and directed by Roland Emmerich, Midway is at best an uneven, ambitious telling of the battle. The impressive ensemble cast is unable to overcome inane dialogue and almost a complete lack of character development. The one truly interesting character is Patrick Wilson’s Layton. The long opening scene depicts the bombing of Pearl Harbor in a tragic visual extravaganza that is heartbreaking and deeply moving, though to some it may resemble a video game.
PG-13 • War violence: peril, bombing, injuries.
This new documentary is a look at the tragedy of human sex trafficking in the United States that showcases the efforts of several evangelical Christian organizations that are actively working to rescue and restore victims, while focusing on prevention. Perhaps because this is a new kind of ministry for evangelical groups, it spends quite a bit of time on making sure the audience understands that all these efforts are in the service of evangelism, to bring the light of Christ to victims and perpetrators.
The film takes a deep dive into the darkness of the situation, looking “at what fuels the demand” through victims’ stories from the streets, to hope and the good things churches, law enforcement, and groups are doing to stop this criminal reality. The film is convincing when it says, “Parents cannot afford to turn a blind eye.” There is a one-night theatrical showing January 23 in 700 theaters across the country, after which the film will be available on DVD. Go to BlindEyesOpened.com for listings and resources.
Not yet rated • Graphic verbal descriptions of sexual assaults and human trafficking.