Rush Movie Review
During the 1970’s, Formula One race car drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) formed a rivalry that ultimately pushed one another to become legends at their sport. Academy Award winning director Ron Howard (A BEAUTIFUL MIND) explores their fascinating true story in the exciting new film RUSH that is thankfully far more interesting than the actual sport of race car driving.
Now that I’ve alienated the built in audience, it is important to note that RUSH will appeal to those outside the world of Formula One racing, myself included, and may even bring in new fans to the sport. The story wisely skips months at a time focusing solely on the two racers, highlighting the important moments that pertain specifically to their rivalry. They each meet significant others and marry but these moments are handled briefly making sure they bring out the individual personalities that parallel their attitude toward their sport, which couldn’t be further in difference from one another. Hemsworth plays James Hunt, a charismatic Englishman who was known for partying and womanizing. His driving skills were natural, passion fueled and fearless. Bruhl plays Niki Lauda, an uptight Austrian who came from a great deal of wealth and lacked a certain etiquette when interacting with others. His driving skills were calculating, logical and consistent. These two initial enemies pushed one another to greatness.
At first glance, one might perceive Hunt as the “good guy” and Lauda as the “bad guy,” but RUSH does an excellent job of simply telling their story, jumping back and forth from each man’s perspective. Once again magnetic on screen, Chris Hemsworth (THOR: THE DARK WORLD) has a natural charisma and star power that is perfect for his character, while Daniel Bruhl (INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS) superbly portrays a cold and less pleasing to the eye opponent. Just as it is in all sports or even life in general, it is only fitting that we are initially drawn to the more likable character or bigger personality. But this is a true story, and neither man is evil they just have different personalities. And as the film goes on and their stories continue, each become more human rather than characters. As their feud grows into respect for one another so does ours for them. While Hemsworth has been getting front billing, Bruhl is on equal ground in this film. The two have a natural chemistry, which helps make the rivalry a joy to watch.
Ron Howard deserves a lot of credit. I think in someone else’s hands Peter Morgan’s wonderful screenplay could get away from itself with unnecessary plot points, but Howard wisely keeps the pacing light and fast, moving swiftly around the track keeping the audience interested the entire two-hour runtime. RUSH is constructed beautifully, keeping its focus where needed and using a gorgeously detailed 1970’s backdrop. The journey is compelling enough to sustain itself without the need of waiting around for the next race. Yet the actual racing scenes are invigorating and easy to follow, cleverly tagging the winner for each race.
As a welcome replacement to the old genre specific staple DAYS OF THUNDER, RUSH is also probably a more accurate depiction of the racing world. While the film may not be mind blowing, it is a solid piece of cinema that is easy to recommend. However, it is appropriately rated R for strong language, graphic scenes and nudity (yes ladies, you do see Hemsworth’s naked backside). RUSH is an enjoyable film due to the interesting story told by energized direction that is propelled even further by two incredible performances. Touching on many themes about the human spirit, endurance and the importance of competition, RUSH is more than a simple story about Formula One racers.