Leaving something for everyone, this fascinating biopic from Ron Howard is so much more than a movie about racing. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel BrÃ¼hl lead as 1970s Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, men whose hatred for each other drives an intense competition for the World Champion title. This film captures the excitement and danger of the track while expertly illustrating the unhealthy rivalry that made Hunt and Lauda famous.
The film is action-packed from the start and clearly outlines the stark differences between Hunt (Hemsworth) and Lauda (BrÃ¼hl). James Hunt is a glamorous and wild party boy, winning races purely on heart and risk. Niki Lauda is unlikable but careful and precise, well aware of the dangers of racing and using his skills to his advantage. The movie is true to the real story of these drivers, but is easy to pick up from audience members that may not be fluent in racing terms and lingo from the 1970s.
“Rush” is strong in character development for the two leads and makes it difficult for the audience to choose which side to root for. Unfortunately, as a result, the other characters in the movie are forgettable. For example, James Hunt marries model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) and within a few scenes, she has left him without leaving much impact on the overall story. After Lauda’s infamous accident, his wife (Alexandra Lara) has to face his disfigurement and an overwhelming amount of invasive press, yet the character falls flat as nothing more than a supportive bystander.
The pacing of “Rush” is also uncomfortable. An immense amount of backstory takes up most of the movie’s first hour and, because the other characters aren’t as interesting, it seems wasteful. The film picks up speed towards Lauda’s accident, recovery and the final races and seems to literally “rush” through the action. The film loses some intensity that major sport movies are expected to have, but still maintains an edge-of-the-seat feel during the final championship race.
“Rush”, despite these pitfalls, is a fascinating rivalry story and generates an interest for Formula One racing audiences may not have before watching. Hemsworth and BrÃ¼hl are brilliant in their portrayal of their characters and the cinematography makes every scene worthwhile. This film may be one to keep an eye on come Oscar season, except for maybe best screenplay and supporting actors.
“Rush” is rated R for sexual content, nudity, some disturbing images, language, and brief drug use.