So I hated it, right? Well actually quite the reverse and this is why. The people who will enjoy it most are those not intimately acquainted with the real story, which will be almost everyone who goes to see it. Also and despite clearly quite deliberate individual errors, what the film does achieve is the tension that existed between Ford and Shelby, the corporate environment of one of the Big Three in the 1960s, and just how bloody dangerous it was to be racing 200mph cars in that era.
And for the diehard petrolheads, it performs one invaluable service: it corrects an injustice that has existed for over half a century: for now the world knows about Ken Miles, who for all those years has been Britain’s greatest racing driver no-one has heard of. And while Christian Bale’s accent bears no relation to that of the man himself, his characterisation of this earthy, irascible man with his steely character and warm heart is exactly how I always imagined him to be. And it was indeed a scandal that he was robbed of victory at Le Mans that year: had he not accepted Ford’s request for a photo finish, he’d have won by miles (no pun intended) and become the first person ever to do the sports car triple by winning Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans all in the same year. The film paints Beebe as the villain of the piece, but there are plenty of people who’ll tell you it was the ACO who didn’t appreciate Ford trying to stage manage their event.
I don’t know either way. But I do know that for all its many and manifest flaws, this is the best racing film I’ve seen in decades. If I haven’t already ruined it for you with all my spoilers, I’d urge you to go and see it, and on as big a screen as you can find.
Interested in movies? Read our story about the best racing car movies of all time.
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox.