Film Review: Rush

Formula One isn’t exactly my specialty. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of sports movies as it is. But I was excited to see a preview of Ron Howard’s new film Rush, because if nothing else, I’d be the envy of a few of my guy friends. Not only did it succeed on that level, but Rush was also an exhilarating ride from start to finish.Rush follows the infamous rivalry between F1 drivers James Hunt (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Inglourious BasterdsDaniel Brühl) as they rise from the F3 division to grand prix success. Their personalities sit in complete opposition—Hunt is the brash, impulsive playboy to Lauda’s methodic perfectionist. Initially, we follow Hunt through his attempts to get sponsored into the big leagues and his hasty, fractured marriage to model Suzy Miller (TRON: Legacy’s Olivia Wilde). However, the focus eventually swings to Lauda and the 1976 season, and this is where this film really hits its competitive stride.As hinted in a clumsy voiceover early on, Lauda’s horrific accident at the German Grand Prix is the pivotal moment in this film. Howard pulls no punches in his portrayal of Lauda’s injuries. Parts are gruesome and cringe-inducing, with Lauda’s accident at the Nürburgring shown in full detail.Indeed, the entire film is littered with bloodied reminders of how incredibly dangerous F1 was, and probably still is.Thankfully, Rush isn’t all doom and gloom. Lauda heroically returns to F1 just six weeks after life-threatening injuries. Hunt is able to continuously bring the comedic relief. For a film with undercurrents of death and danger, Rush is both hilarious and fairly optimistic.Visually, we’re served some glorious track action which is as beautiful as it is exciting. Rush is kind of an artsy-sports film, in the way that it doesn’t look or feel like cars just doing laps on a track. The high-octane race scenes won’t be off-putting to the sport-illiterate, and will stimulate those who came for the thrill.However, much of the heavy lifting in this film is the work of Brühl and Hemsworth. The racing spectacle falls into the background when compared to the visceral antagonism they have for one another. The best scenes are often those when they are together. Lauda and Hunt do have lighter moments towards the end, but unfortunately much of the real-life friendship between them wasn’t depicted, which is to the film’s detriment.Brühl is perhaps the standout, having given a nuanced and understated performance in a role that could have been horridly overplayed. Both Lauda and Hunt are endearing in this film, which in itself is a serious triumph.Rush is every bit as electrifying as you’d expect from a film about F1, with top class acting and brilliant racing sequences to boot. It’s supremely watchable, and will be showing up on many ‘best films’ lists by the end of the Ashleigh McMillan

October 7th 2013
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