The big race didn't finish exactly the way it's depicted in "Ford v. Ferrari."
And the hilarious scene previewed in the trailers — when race-car building legend Carroll Shelby delights and then frightens to the point of tears the Ford heir and CEO of Ford Motor Co. on a mad lap in the company's Ferrari-fighting GT40 racer? Never happened.
But it feels right — dramatically, comically and thematically. And in James Mangold's epic yet breezy spin around a piece of motorsport legend, if it didn't happen, it sure as hell should have. Want a lesson in how a two and a half hour period piece can just fly by? Mangold ("Walk the Line," "Logan") gives a master class in it, using the struggle, the titanic figures engaged in it and the pedal-to-the-metal setting to plunge us into American motorsport's equivalent of the moon landing.
Here's Shelby, a hustling Texan given a compact, cunning and comic understatement by Matt Damon. Shelby was the first American to win the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans, and when he was forced to stop racing himself, he put a Ford V-8 into tiny British AC Ace sports car and created a world beating racer, and one of the most valuable collectible automobiles in history — the Shelby Cobra.
At Ford, Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) has just struck young-motorist gold with the Mustang, and he proceeds to convince the boss, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts), that what Ford really needs, image-wise, is to buy the great European sports car builder Ferrari, which runs the fastest cars in the races that have cachet among the young — sports-car races.