Looking for a great film to see? Fan of Formula 1 racing? Not a fan? Doesn’t much matter really for in Rush, Ron Howard’s highly entertaining, virtuosic film, the director offers so much more than just hi-octane thrills and spills.
He thankfully spares us from any such clichéd cinematic equivalents also. And while the race sequences are some of the best seen on film, it’s the off-track drama that is most compelling. Howard and former screen writing collaborator Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) set an enthralling story of rivalry against the backdrop of the 1976 World Championship season. That year saw British driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) taunt and push one another to life threatening extremes in a sport, as Lauda tells us, “25 people start… and each year, two die.” He goes on to ask, “What kind of a person does a job like that?” It’s a statement telling of Lauda’s statistician-like approach and his methodical, disciplined work ethic. He treats driving as a job, a business based on a series of engineering problems and risks to be calculated. Hunt, all open-shirted chest and scruffy blond locks, is every bit his antithesis. His playboy ways were legendary (5000 women!) and although regarded as risky and unreliable by the moneymen, his natural abilities on the track were undeniable. The adversarial bond that begins years earlier in the lower divisions between the men develops over the years into mutual respect, albeit shielded behind constant jibes. The relationship plays out in truly captivating fashion thanks to the perfectly textured performances of both leads andMorgan’s intelligent, elegantly balanced script. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle frames the action beautifully, capturing both the era and inner machinations with wonderfully inventive camera work. Rush doesn’t just look amazing, it feels truly exhilarating in a way rarely sustained in cinema. Rated MA