Ok, I need a mechanic..ya see, I’ve got this car and it looks great (Christian Bale, Tracy Letts) and has a tremendous history (the life story of Ken Miles is truly compelling), HOWEVER, the freakin’ thing seems to sputter.
Jez and John-Henry Butterworth co-wrote the script and have done super work on Black Mass and Edge of Tomorrow, so maybe perhaps they tried. Jason Keller’s history isn’t as strong (could he be the plastic bumper?), don’t know what his input was. The irony is that the Ford Motor’s problem was too many cooks running the show, perhaps the movie suffers from the same problem. The first ten minutes of the film could have easily been excised.
I don’t think its the director James Mangold’s fault either as his legacy (3:10 to Yuma, for one)…aw wait! Here’s a screw loose…The Greatest Showman…ok the crux of the problem in this film has The Greatest Showman’s corn factor, for one. Bale is such a heavy weight actor, let him get in the dirt more. More anger, more obsession. Yet the movie played it too safe, sanitizing him (as they did Mr. Barnum in Greatest Show) to be a wholesome dude who threw a wrench once in awhile. Not enough.
The Bale marriage was contrived and the couple (sorry Caitriona Balfe) had no chemistry. Give me some sex for goodness sakes.
What’s good: the race scenes were very well done and better than some of the dialogue. Scenes with Ray McKinnon as Phil Remington (Academy Award winner for a short film in 2002!) were genuine. Noah Jupe does his best as the son, but compared to what he did in Honey Boy, he probably felt like saying, ‘can I phone this in (yawn)?’
I was moved by the end when finally Matt Damon was allowed to act rather than just chew gum and look angry. Ken Miles’ life story deserves better writing and a more avant-garde stylistic rendering.
This model, unfortunately, needs a re-call.