Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe
Running Time: 152 mins
Director: James Mangold
Le Mans ’66 is an American film about the true story of Ford v Ferrari, where the legendary American motor company went up against the unbeatable Ferrari team at Le Mans, and the men who worked to make them the greatest racing team in the world.
There’s nothing I love more than a great racing movie, and there are few that capture the essence and spirit of motor racing quite as spectacularly as Le Mans ’66. Not only a brilliant, edge-of-your-seat sporting spectacle, but also a riveting character drama, the film is an enthralling watch at every minute, wrapping you up in the indomitable spirit of some of the bravest, most determined competitors in history.
Now, motor racing in the mid-20th Century has this image of glamour and playboy extravagance, and films like the excellent Rush, Grand Prix, Le Mans and more have only served to further that perception. But while that’s certainly true in some contexts, the true essence of the sport is often glossed over.
Le Mans ’66, however, gets right down into the nitty-gritty of engineering, testing, development and more, not only showing the grubby, hard-working realities of the sport, but also doing it in a way that embodies the spirit of the sportsmen fighting to topple the dominance of one of the world’s greatest teams, against all the odds.
As a result, if you’re a racing fan, you’ll really appreciate how much Le Mans ’66 gets down and dirty with all the riveting behind-the-scenes action of motor racing and car production, blending it brilliantly with the stunning determination and passion of Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and all the people around them for their sport.
But even if you’re not a racing fan, and the thought of watching two and a half hours of R&D sounds tedious to you, Le Mans ’66 is one of those rare films that’s able to totally engross you in its story, no matter on what level.
In that, alongside the development battle against Ferrari ahead of the Le Mans race, there’s riveting political intrigue – centring around the changing balance of power at the top of the Ford Motor Company – as well as an intimate and emotional story that looks at the struggles of both Shelby’s own endeavours with his car company, as well as Miles’ home life, and the importance of spending time working for his family coming up against his passion for racing.
So, whether it’s an exhilarating racing movie or an intimate, intriguing personal drama that you’re looking for (or especially both), Le Mans ’66 has exactly what you need. It’s a stunning two and a half-hour spectacle that thrills and fascinates at every moment, impressing with exceptional visual effects, two powerhouse lead performances, and an undeniably enthralling screenplay, so that’s why I’m giving Le Mans ’66 an 8.0 overall.