Review: ‘Ferrari’

Michael Mann's Racing Drama Never Shifts Into High Gear

Does the world really need two Ferrari movies in less than five years? To be fair, 2019’s critically acclaimed Ford v Ferrari wasn’t so much about the man as the racing rivalry. Michael Mann’s Ferrari, however, is considerably less interesting and intense for putting its focus on a past-his-prime, befuddled Enzo Ferrari as he juggles business woes and a corrosive love triangle that threatens to destroy everything.

Adam Driver, sporting grey hair, a bit of a ponch, and ever-present shades, plays Enzo Ferrari who is torn between his emboldened wife Laura (Penelope Cruz), who has the rights to the Ferrari business in her name; and his mistress Lina (Shailene Woodley), the mother of his son after tragedy claimed Enzo’s eldest child. It’s 1957 and Enzo is no longer a pedal-to-the-metal guy, at least not in action. While the company struggles against upstart Maserati, who hope to break Ferrari’s speed record, Enzo puts all of his energies into winning the dangerous Mille Miglia in hopes of boosting sales. It’s also a case of personal pride.

If only Ferrari were more about the deadly race, getting the racers ready to endure the most ferocious course in history, where 56 people died throughout its existence. Ferrari only truly comes alive when it steers towards the grim spectacle. Mann captures each grisly collision with macabre fascination but is less interested when Troy Kennedy Martin’s one-note screenplay goes back into cruise control. Enzo’s life just sortof keeps going on despite the horrors of the racetrack. If the point is to show how separated Enzo has become to anything outside of his domestic strife, it only serves to feel like Mann is in a sprint to the finish line.

And honestly, who can blame him for wanting to move on to the next project as quickly as possible? Ferrari, a project Mann had been exploring since 2000, arrives already beyond its expiration date.The far-superior Ford v Ferrari beat Mann to the punch, taking initial star Christian Bale with it, and this is like Mann was left with the scraps to play around with. Because the least interesting things about Enzo Ferrari, this Italian giant of the automotive industry, are his marital issues and business sense.

At least Driver comes well-prepared for the role. The House of Gucci accent remains firmly in place, and he can play stoic and stylish with the best of them. Cruz brings her typical fire to the role of Laura, with an extra dose of venom. Woodley doesn’t have much to do as the clear third leg of this triangle, though. Love is little more than a car wreck’s worth of heartbreak with this trio, but Ferrari only finds passion on the track, and even then, only when the track becomes a horror show.

Ferrari is in theaters now.

Travis Hopson
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.
review-ferrariDoes the world really need two Ferrari movies in less than five years? To be fair, 2019's critically acclaimed Ford v Ferrari wasn't so much about the man as the racing rivalry. Michael Mann's Ferrari, however, is considerably less interesting and intense for putting...