Come for the metal, stay for the mettle. Because as only-American-to-win-LeMans Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) tells you at the outset, once you get your snarling, straining beast of a race car up over 7000 rpms, you go to the Race Place, where everything fades away and you’re left with the question — the only one that matters, mind you — “Who are you?” Well, if you’re autophile and superdriver Ken Miles (Christian Bale, skinny and sweet), you’re the hero, the man of artistic vision and unsullied integrity (plus impatience with those who lack it) who is all but doomed in this rotten world. If you’re Henry Ford II, you’re the thin-skinned titan of industry who needs a genius if he’s going to stick it to that painfully successful Eurosnob Enzo Ferrari. And if you’re Carroll Shelby, you’re the guy who has to get the Man and the Money Man to cooperate, despite the best efforts of corporate snake Leo Beebe. Director James Mangold indulges himself with this tale of American manhood (152 minutes and an awful lot of auto racing), but he knows he can afford it — he’s got Bourne and Batman as brilliant, brawling best buds battling the bastards. Think Iron Man and Captain America, only it’s a (mostly) true story and what’s at stake is not the fate of the universe, nor even an auto race, but the glorious, endless pursuit of perfection. (2019) — Matthew Lickona
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