Adam Driver, Marine Corps veteran, and talented actor plays the great car builder Enzo Ferarri in the new biopic Ferrari, which hit theaters this Christmas season. The film, directed by Michael Mann (who has directed many great films and shows including Miami Vice, Heat and Last of the Mohicans) features top-notch performances from a wonderful cast and incredible cinematography. The ensemble includes Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Sarah Gadon, Gabriel Leone, Jack O'Connell and "Dr. McDreamy" himself, Patrick Dempsey.
Driver as Ferrari. Photo courtesy of imdb.com.
The film follows the life of Enzo Ferrari, the man who built the high-end sports car company and took them to great heights, which they remain at to this day. Mann is a Ferrari car aficionado and has used them in his prior works (see Miami Vice). Ferrari is also a veteran of World War I in the Italian Army with the 3rd Mountain Artillery Regiment. Veteran entrepreneurship. It has action, drama and suspense, so what more could you ask for in a Christmas film? Maybe John McClane or Riggs and Murtaugh, but Driver does excellent work and he, with his supporting crew, is all we need.
Italian driver Nando Minoia and team manager Enzo Ferrari on the circuit of France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1932. Photo courtesy of biography.com.
Driver is known for his memorable roles as Kylo Ren in the new Star Wars films, the HBO series Girls, Silence, The Last Duel, BlacKkKlansman, J.Edgar, Lincoln and Marriage Story. For the last two films, he received consecutive Academy Award nominations for Best Actor. He has collaborated with legendary directors such as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Ridley Scott, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderberg, J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson. His co-stars have included Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, John David Washington, Lady Gaga, Daisey Ridley, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek, Mark Hamil, Katie Holmes and many more. He was educated at Julliard in NYC post-service in the Corps and graduated with a BFA in Fine Arts.
Driver joined the Marines after 9/11 and served from 2001 to 2003 as an 81mm mortarman with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, stationed at Camp Pendleton. His service was cut short due to injury and eventual medical discharge. He left the Marines as a Lance Corporal. Driver also founded the non-profit Arts in the Armed Forces in 2008 with his wife Joanne Tucker, which brought arts programming to active duty service members, veterans and their families, all free of charge.
Penélope Cruz in the film as Ferrari's wife, Laura. Photo courtesy of STX Films.
Now back to the wonderful film; it is filled with fine performances and direction from Mann. He brings his own style with lighting, frames, vision and action sequences which makes a cinephile look forward to the Heat sequel he is doing next. One of the biggest effects is the period automobiles with beautifully-tuned engines racing around the track. The motors and tires rumbling by feels on the screen feel just like a real track-side seat at a Grand Prix race. On top of all these beautifully done racing and car-testing sequences, we get intense drama from the leads. Driver and Cruz light up the visuals and the emotions are palpable across the screen into the theater. We really feel for Cruz and her taking a second, if not third, position to Ferrari and his vices, which come back to haunt the family. Woodley plays an interesting and important character who adds to the emotional drive of the story. You can see for yourself her significance and abilities. The period costumes, sets and locations are superb. We even get to see how high-end race car drivers likely functioned early in advanced motorsports, too. The audience experiences excitement, thrills, pain, sorrow and loss throughout the course of the film.
All in all, I give Ferrari 3.5 Red Star Clusters and a hearty endorsement to see the cinematic adventure. It is classic Hollywood cinema and storytelling at its best. It is even better if you love cars, history and seeing veterans succeed in their lifelong passion such as Driver. Give Ferrari a test drive and you will be impressed. You may even pick up some Italian in the screening to boot.