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Michael Mann’s Most Criminally Underseen Thriller Just Hit Hulu

Gotta go fast.

Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari in Michael Mann's 'Ferrari'
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Every year, a great movie comes along too late and doesn't receive enough critical acclaim to get the attention it deserves. That happened to Damien Chazelle's Babylon, a three-hour epic that might be the most loving middle finger to Hollywood ever made. A year earlier, a similar fate befell Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, which flew under the radar despite being made by one of the world's most lauded filmmakers.

In late 2023, it was Michael Mann's Ferrari that was largely ignored by moviegoers. Critics, meanwhile, hit it with backhanded praise that highlighted its best qualities while categorizing it as a decidedly minor offering from one of America's premiere auteurs. While no one would argue that Ferrari is as good as Heat, Collateral, or any of Mann's other all-time classics, it is far better than its muted response would have you believe. And now that it’s available to stream on Hulu, you can find out for yourself.

Based on real-life events, Ferrari follows Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) as he places the future of his car company on the outcome of that year's Mille Miglia, a dangerous open-road race that spans 1,000 miles. As he works tirelessly to put his racing team in a strong position, Enzo struggles to keep his strained life with his grieving wife, Laura (Penélope Cruz), from destroying his peaceful second life with his longtime lover, Lina (Shailene Woodley), and their young son. Across its 130 minutes, the film charts how its protagonist's personal and professional lives came dangerously close to falling apart during the most chaotic summer of his life.

For those familiar with Michael Mann's work, it's obvious to see what it was about Ferrari that appealed to him. The writer-director has long been fascinated by the lifelong battle we all face between our responsibilities and our desires, and in Ferrari that conflict is magnified. Enzo's disinterest in the business side of Ferrari has put the company in such a bad financial position that it may no longer be able to afford the races he cares about. His sense of responsibility to Laura in the wake of their son's demise has similarly made it impossible for him to follow his impulse to run away with Lina and officially recognize their son.

Every race is just an inch away from going horribly wrong.


Ferrari often lacks the in-your-face intensity that Mann fans have come to expect, but you still feel the dueling conflicts of Enzo's life raging at all times, and there's great pleasure to be found in watching Mann patiently and expertly turn up the heat before letting everything boil over in Ferrari's unforgettable final act. The film's length and measured pace are justified in a ferociously bitter argument between Laura and Enzo that lets Driver and Cruz demonstrate just how deep they sunk their teeth into their characters. That sequence is followed by a race of breathtaking beauty and gut-wrenching horror that, although you might not know it, ranks high among the best scenes of last year.

Michael Mann spent 20 years trying to get Ferrari made. For him to have dedicated so much time and effort just to receive a muted financial and critical response is a shame. Time always determines cinema's real winners, though, and just as he has with almost all his other films, Mann made a work that can live on long after its theatrical release. For now, everyone who missed Ferrari in December has a chance to rectify that mistake.

Ferrari is streaming on Hulu.

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