Michael Mann is one of contemporary American Cinema’s most recognisable names behind hits like Heat, The Last of The Mohicans and Collateral. After an eight-year absence, Mann returns with the much-anticipated Ferrari, his take on the life of the famed Italian car maker Enzo Ferrari, focusing on a particularly fraught time in both his personal and public life in 1957. A new Michael Mann film is always an event with the Director a pioneer in several areas, with this also a profile of one of the most recognisable figures in the history of motor racing, the excitement is amplified.

At this point, Ferrari’s relationship with his wife Laura was under strain following the death of his eldest son Dino. This coincides with a slump in production and sales putting the company’s position in jeopardy. Adam Driver is Enzo, greyed up to resemble a Ferrari nearing his twilight years, trying to cement his legacy and secure a future for the company. Penelope Cruz’s Laura is full of fire as she says holding half the cards with a stake in the company as Enzo’s main partner. As such this gives her power over him. Things are further complicated by the presence of Enzo’s illegitimate son Pierro from his mistress Linda (Shailene Woodley).

Outside of a brief opening montage Ferrari himself isn’t seen in a racing car, relegated to a bystander placing his faith in a new generation that is struggling to match their rivals, Jaguar usurping them at Le Mans. The future of the company depends on a strong showing at the Mille Miglia, the famous Italian street race with Patrick Dempsey, Jack O’Connell, and Gabriel Leone the team assembled to beat Maserati.

Adam Driver is a reserved Enzo, brooding on the loss of his son while Cruz is dynamite on the screen. The pair do share fine chemistry however outside of the pair there is a lack of development for the rest of the cast with Woodley’s Linda feeling almost an afterthought with a questionable accent to boot, although Cruz and Driver’s accents are less off-putting, and it certainly isn’t a mess on the level of House of Gucci.

The racing sequences are saved predominantly for the Mille Miglia itself with glimpses of trial runs. The drawback of slightly underdeveloped characters behind the wheel of the cars is a lack of investment in the fate of the drivers, unlike something like Ford v Ferrari where we are invested in Christian Bale’s Ken Miles. Funnily enough, Michael Mann was an Executive Producer on that film so there are more than a few parallels.

What the racing sequences do underline is the sense of danger for drivers in the ’50s with a devastating crash at the film’s denouement injuring both driver and bystanders, this has been criticised for being overly dramatic and excessively graphic, but it helps hammer the point home and makes them more memorable.

Ferrari is an engaging study of both the man and business at their lowest point with commendable work from Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz. It might not be a rousing crowd-pleaser like other motor racing films in recent years, but a new Michael Mann is always an event and this shows he is still more than capable of delivering in most areas. If not anywhere near his absolute best this is a constantly watchable and entertaining 2 hours that will leave plenty revved up. Let’s hope it’s not another eight-year wait for Mann’s next project.