Rush (2013) Directed by Ron Howard. With Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, David Calder and Pierfrancesco Favin.
Starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, Ron Howard’s Rush is a flashy biopic about the rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Nikki Lauda during the mid-1970’s.
Like so many biographical films, Rush is embellished with fictitious frills to extend its drama. Of the two central performances, it is Daniel Brühl’s interpretation of Nikki Lauda that leaves the strongest impression, partly due to Lauda being a more enigmatic figure than his rival. That isn’t to say that Chris Hemsworth isn’t good as James Hunt; the pretty-boy, Casanova racing driver – determined to ‘have his cake and eat it’. The differences between the two men adds an extra dynamic to their fascinatingly intense rivalry. The script by Peter Morgan does a fine job of expressing this, but is balanced and human enough to help us understand the deep-seated respect that these two men had for each other.
While the excitement of their rivalry is captured, Howard also takes the time to explore the private lives of the men away from the track. Both struggle to maintain a balance between their mutual passion (Hunt can’t resist the endless party and Lauda fears he’ll lose his edge through the comfort blanket of personal happiness), as their love-lives cross paths with their desire to stay in pole position on the racetrack.
There are though, a few minor quibbles. The excellent cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle has an ‘Instagramed’ contrast that screams 1976 – perhaps prescribing a little too much faux authenticity on top of the excellent period detail. Also, some of the dialogue seems forced for the sake of unnecessary exposition.
Small things aside, not only is Rush an adrenalin-fuelled ride with blistering race sequences, it is also an exciting exploration of the psychological battleground that sport at the highest level is played out on. Rivalry is the petrol in the engine for these men and through fierce competition, they push each other to new limits of achievement on and off the track. It’s testament to Ron Howard’s storytelling that you don’t have to care about Formula One to feel engaged. His film is accessible and in some of its best moments, thoroughly breathtaking. 4/5