Ford v Ferrari

Viewed – 13 April 2020. Online rental

Aka Le Mans ‘66.

Although good casting does not guarantee a great movie, here we have two of Hollywood’s best as real-life motor racing icons Caroll Shelby and Ken Miles in the at-the-time unbelievable true story of how American motor company Ford went up against motor racing giants Ferrari in the epic 24hr Le Mans race.

Matt Damon plays retired racing champ and car designer Shelby who gets approached by the big wigs at Ford who see the potential to liven up their brand by entering the racing circuit. However they feel less appalled by the wild card that is Ken Miles, played by a brilliant Christian Bale. However Shelby is committed to Miles being the guy to race and plans on delivering a car that will beat Ferrari at their own game. This was absorbing and fascinating stuff. I can’t say I’m familiar with the events depicted but with assured direction and two solid performances, I found myself fully invested. The friendship between Shelby and Miles as well as the relationship between Miles and his son give this the emotional weight to aid the racing … and between exhilarating and viscerally-edited racing we get some great character moments that are both emotionally driven and at time’s comical.

I’d have liked a bit more detail on just how the iconic Ford GT40 came to be (it just sort of appears), and a significant moment towards the end is rather down-played, lacking the impact it deserved. However none of this detracted from what is a thoroughly engaging true story that I can easily say is a must-watch.

Verdict: Essential

The Wolverine

Viewed – 01 August 2013  Cinema

In recent years I have grown tired of the never ending X-Men franchise, and have only seen a small portion of X-Men 3 and not seen at all the last Wolverine movie.  So you could say I am playing catch up with this, but from the trailer, that looked all sorts of kick-ass, I felt this deserved my attention.

The Wolverine (2012) Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Hugh Jackman, perfectly cast as the mutant Logan, who never ages, can heal automatically and yes, has unbreakable metal fused throughout his body, resulting in those iconic talons that sprout from his knuckles,  Starting in World War II where he saves the life of a Japanese soldier, we quickly jump to modern day where a Japanese girl with some bad-ass samurai skills, contacts Logan with a message that his old friend, yes that Japanese soldier is now on his death bed in Tokyo and wishes for Logan to come and see him one last time.

Switching the action to Tokyo and throwing in sword fighting, samurais, ninjas and a love interest with a Japanese heiress, this is an immediately interesting approach for a character that for me at least, was starting to get a bit tired.  Expertly directed by James Mangold marking his first summer blockbuster (previously known for biopic Walk The Line and Stallone thriller Copland), this is full of style, thrilling encounters, great CGI and a lead character so unashamedly gruff and chiseled, that not enjoying this is near impossible.  For the ladies Hugh is shirtless and ripped for the most part and has the charisma to make for a likable moody hero.  For us guys we get a sexy but deadly Viper woman who can melt your face when she blows you a kiss and has a forked tongue (hissss), and looks simply mouth watering in her skin tight green Lycra.  Add to this a re-occurring cameo from Famke jansen’s Jean Gray (from the X-Men movies) and Rila Fukushima as the toughest schoolgirl since Hitgirl … and what’s not to like?

Events kind of get a bit silly towards the end, and the pace sags in the middle, but with a ton of action (including a stunning bullet train fight) and some good characters and a great setting, I came away suitably impressed.

Verdict:  4 /5