While it might not be an instant classic, Michael Mann’s latest is worth watching thanks to Adam Driver’s strong performance.
Hollywood sure does like two things these days: Remakes and biopics. We’ve seen Adam Driver in a few, more recently in House of Gucci. While that film is mostly forgettable, Ferrari is much more engrossing and Adam Driver knocks it out of the park in his performance as the man behind the automaker. Combine that with director Michael Mann’s skills for building tension and getting the most out of his characters, and it makes Ferrari thrilling just knowing that turmoil could be around any corner beyond the race tracks or roads. While the film isn’t perfect by any means, there are some interesting aspects in addition to Driver’s great performance.
We all know the Ferrari brand, but not everyone knows the story. Ferrari is set in 1957, where Enzo Ferrari pushes himself and his drivers over the limit to perform in a race through Italy. His empire hangs in the balance and he puts everything into this, for better or worse. In addition to the racing and business struggles tied to his expensive vehicles, Enzo also has a unique marital situation with Laura Ferrari (Penelope Cruz) and his lover Lina Lardi (Shailene Woodley). He ends up having a son with each, which puts the question of who will run the empire when he’s gone. Needless to say, this was a very stressful time for Enzo for a film that only covers a small piece of his life.
As the movie goes on, Mann does a great job building tension to where the viewer feels as if something terrible could happen at any given moment. Ferrari is very persistent and it ends up leading to tragedy by the end. While Neon has promoted the vehicle aspect of Mann’s newest offering, the movie isn’t really about cars as it’s more about the complex look of a man whose empire is on the brink of collapsing. For some, this is going to work quite well. But for others, they may find themselves occasionally checking their watch. The biggest issue though is it feels like there is a ceiling for how good this movie can be given the man behind the camera. There are times where you really want more and there probably is a longer cut of the film that dives a bit more into some scenes that feel cut short.
While there are a few pacing issues in the movie, overall the runtime and narrative feel cohesive. This won’t be a film that will take home many (if any) awards, but it’s worth checking out mainly because of Adam Driver and the final act. Michael Mann has made better movies, for sure, but this one is a nice addition to his filmography nonetheless. There are some moments where it’s hard to look away, even if you know what is ultimately coming. While it’s not at the top of priority films to see this holiday season, it’s still worth checking out because of Mann and Driver collaborating. Let’s hope they reunite for Mann’s hotly anticipated Heat sequel, which Driver is rumored to be part of.
(out of five stars)