Sunday 6 October 2013

Film Review: Rush

Gentlemen, start your engines
Formula One is a sport rife with Hollywood narratives that contain all the drama and action to amaze on the big screen. And yet, 2011's Senna aside, silver screen success has always eluded the sport, with Ron Howard's Rush being one of the first major motion pictures to be primarily centred on Formula One. And boy is it good.

Chris Hemsworth as iconic F1 playboy, James Hunt
Set in the sexy, dangerous era of the 1970's, Ron Howard's Rush is a character driven drama that isn't really about Formula One at all. Well, it is but in another sense it isn't. Instead, Howard is interested in focusing on the driver psyche, the desire for glory and the dangers associated with risking ones life for sporting success.

The film is really a character study of two apposite men rather than a full-on racing movie. It has the ability to appeal to anyone who likes drama and great acting, whether they are a fan of cars driving in circles or not.

Through doing this, Rush centres its story a rivalry that every F1 fan can instantly identify; Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Two thoroughly different people, Hunt and Lauda's duel over the World Championship of 1976 personifies the underlying message of danger, risk and glory in Rush.

In Hunt, we have the the devil-may-care attitude who finds thrill in the risk. Hunt, as every F1 fan will know, defined the sports sexy and high-octane image during the 1970's and this is wonderfully captured throughout the movie. From posing naked with supermodels to bedding air hostesses, Hunt gets his kicks through the danger and glamour associated with F1.

Chris Hemsworth's understanding of the character comes across in his portrayal of the iconic British playboy. Not only does Hemsworth look the part (his mop of blonde hair hitting the nail on the head), but he acts it too. He has that essential charisma and swagger down pat right from the off. His acting turns a potentially unlikeable character into one the audience will root for.

Daniel Bruhl steals the show as Niki Lauda
Or will they? That is the real charm of Rush. On the flipside is Daniel Bruhl's amazing portrayal of 3-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda. Lauda is a character driven by attention-to-detail and planning. He possesses none of Hunt's charm but has the technical know-how and intellect to outwit him on the track.

His dedication to get back in the car after his horrifying crash in the films middle-third is a tale of immense human endeavour and perseverance. Bruhl is a revelation as Lauda and essentially steals the show off of Hemsworth through his wonderful acting.

Contrasted against one another, these two characters are both hero and villain. Who you root for is entirely up to you. Howard doesn't present the audience with a good/bad, black/white binary. The grey area in between is Rush's greatest strong-point. Both characters have their motivations, their flaws and their strengths.

Pierfrancesco Favino plays Lauda's Ferrari team-mate Clay Regazzoni (complete with wonderfully bushy moustache) whilst Olivia Wilde plays Suzy Miller, Hunt's primary love interest. Wilde was slightly underwritten I found, especially for an actress of her notoriety. Alas, this is a film about masculinity and the narrative rarely deviates from the two rival drivers on the track.

Another impressive aspect of Rush is the brilliant attention to detail poured into every scene. From the car liveries to the overalls, the tracks and the authentic 1970's look and feel, Rush will set retro F1 fans hearts a flutter through the intricately detailed Ferraris' and McLarens. Hans Zimmer's rip-roaring soundtrack is also fantastic.

Some die-hards might take issue with the creative license Howard has taken in crafting Hunt and Lauda's rivalry, but I found that any additions are necessary for narrative cohesion. For example, early on in the film Hunt and Lauda first meet at a F3 race at Crystal Palace in 1970. This never happened in real-life but the scenes serve as a way of setting up the eventual showdown in 1976.

The race scenes are another highlight. The super slo-mo shots of pistons, pedals and gear changes put Fast and Furious to shame. Howard's direction is fantastic in recreating the high-stakes and fast-paced racing of the Formula race track. I wouldn't be surprised if, like Gravity, Rush was up for some big awards next January.

Rush is simply fantastic all-round. The acting is superb, the action and drama is well-balanced and the attention to detail will blow fans of the sport away. Put all this together and Rush gave me goosebumps and I already knew how it was going to end. I knew the Hunt/Lauda story inside out going in and still got chills from the movie. I would highly recommend Rush to anyone, F1 fan or not. There is something for everyone to enjoy and relate to.

I give Rush: 9/10

What did you think of Rush? Let me know in the comments section below!


  1. Nice review. I wasn't quite so blown away by this movie as you were, but it was still a decent enough flick with some solid acting. :)

    1. Thanks man :) I'm a die-hard F1 fan so I've been pumped for this film for ages haha.



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