Cert: 15 Runtime: 123 mins Director: Ron Howard Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino and David Calder
The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It’s a wonderful way to live. It’s the only way to drive
Formula 1 has been a great interest of mine for well over a decade, Fernando Alonso is my favourite driver I will admit. Controversial as it may be he is awesome. Anyway I digress, Ron Howard a big F1 fan has made a little film called Rush based on one of the biggest rivalries to dat in the sport. James Hunt and Niki Lauda are two of the greatest individuals to ever have raced in F1, now Hoard has brought the tale to the big screen. So what is Rush? Set against the sexy, glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing in the 1970s, the film is based on the true story of a great sporting rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl ). The story follows their distinctly different personal styles on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error: if you make a mistake, you die.
The thing about Rush is that it’s not really a racing movie. While the film does follow the world of Formula-One racing, it is not what the movie is about. Where Rush really accelerates and manages to resonate, is in portraying the complicated love-hate rivalry between racecar drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1970s.This is a true story that is so fantastic that it almost seems as if it was fabricated, but the film never feels fake or Hollywoodified. Director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan go to great lengths to not make it the good guy vs. bad guy scenario. They present both the flaws and the things that made Hunt and Lauda great men of the sport. Hunt’s a charming, easy to like playboy who is self-destructive, and Lauda is so calculating and abrasive he rarely shows emotion or vulnerability, and yet you’ve gotta love a man who is not afraid to say what he thinks. Featuring some of the most exciting cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle since he won the Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, and some genuinely whip smart editing, you really get the feeling of being in this world, on the track with these titans of racing. What manages to evoke this feeling is Howard’s documentary like approach to the material.Ron Howard really is a chameleon of a director. He never makes the same movie twice, and there really is no other film in his filmography quite like this one.
He sheds many of the genre conventions that you find in his other works for a stripped down, realistic approach. You feel as if you’re a fly on the wall watching the ultimate racing doc that’s all rock-and-roll. Then there’s the rocking Seventies setting that’s equal parts nostalgic and cool, by and large thanks to the surprisingly nuanced and of-the-times musical score from Hans Zimmer. However, there is also a heart to this movie that is both a testament to Howard’s ability to shape smart characters and the performances of his actors. These two things combine to make these character’s oddly likable, even when they aren’t always the nicest of people.Overall, Rush is simply put, a phenomenal experience at the theater. It’s a movie that can be fun, emotional, and thoughtful all in one. It paints the picture as to why we need rivalries in life. There has to be something pushing us to greatness, and very often a healthy rivalry is the only way to get there. Even if a Formula-One movie isn’t your cup of tea, I implore you to at least give the film a chance as a character piece. Stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl compliment one another in their performances very much the same way that Hunt and Lauda did on the racetrack, and sometimes you don’t need flowery words to express how much a performance, or in this case, two performances work. Rush is definitely a movie I will be revisiting in the future and is one that I will more than likely include, very proudly I might add, on my year end best list.