Racing Movie Month: "Rush" Review

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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Rating: R
Length: 123 minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Directed by: Ron Howard
Genre: Action / Biography / Drama

"Rush" is a special kind of film that tells a powerful true story while honoring the real-life subject matter and engaging viewers with breathtaking visuals and commendable action sequences. In the golden age of Formula One racing, playboy racer James Hunt encounters a serious, strategical racer from Austria named Niki Lauda. As the championship rounds of the 1976 season draw near, James must overcome personal and professional struggles to outrace his newfound rival and become the next world champion. Although this film is a special treat for F1 fans, it offers a top-notch movie-watching experience for anyone who loves a good story about racing and rivalry.

After a brief scene before a big 1976 race narrated by Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), viewers are taken back six years earlier to a hospital in which James Hunt (Chirs Hemsworth) is being treated for a wound resulting from a fight. After sweet-talking his nurse, Gemma (Natalie Dormer), the two become romantically involved, and he takes her to a race at the Crystal Palace to meet his crew. During this race, James encounters the stern, collected Niki Lauda for the first time. Niki loses the race due to a mechanical error, and he finds James after the race to insult him. Although James and his crew do not initially take Niki seriously, this encounter forms the beginning of their career-long rivalry.

Audiences then find themselves in the world of Niki Lauda, who was born into a family of high-class economists and politicians. After his father denies him a loan to enter an F1 racing team, Niki takes matters into his own hands, having his own car made and being accepted into a prominent team. Niki soon meets a woman named Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara) and begins charming her with his demeanor and driving skills. Meanwhile, James meets Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), a beautiful model who eventually becomes his wife.

For the 1975 season, Niki is driving for Ferarri. He easily wins the championship, driving James to dedicate himself to winning the title for the 1976 season. However, things do not go as planned as James suffers through a number of personal problems as well as issues with his original team. Although it appears that Niki may be winning the world championship for a second year in a row, James does not give up, giving everything to try to outrace his rival and take the crown.

"Rush" delivers plenty of action and drama, examining the lives of two important F1 racers while highlighting the golden age of the sport. Dedicated F1 fans recognize the sights and sounds of a number of vintage race cars. Although most modern action films resort to CGI effects for difficult sequences, real stunt drivers are behind the wheels of these classic cars in nearly every scene, adding to the realism of the film. "Rush" spends a great deal of its time highlighting the true nature of F1 racing during the 1970s, from its colorful playboy drivers to the imminent danger of the sport. The music weaves into every scene beautifully, adding just the right amount of emotion and tension to keep audiences craving for more. The orchestral score by acclaimed composer Hans Zimmer is spot-on, and a number of 1970s rock songs create an period-appropriate atmosphere.

The film includes some great racing sequences, but the real draw of the movie is its fascinating story of a true rivalry between two racers. Chris Hemsworth is completely believable as the cocky, laid-back playboy James Hunt, portraying the character with spot-on accuracy and respect. Although audiences may begin watching the film for Hemsworth, they are sure to be blown away by Daniel Bruhl's portrayal of NIki Lauda. From his display of emotions to his accent and mannerisms, Bruhl steals the spotlight with his incredible performance. These two characters are polar opposites, creating a unique chemistry that draws viewers into their complex relationship. Although Hunt and Lauda were more friendly and respectful of each other in real life than they appeared in the film, this bit of creative license works to the film's benefit.

"Rush" is the kind of film that transports viewers to another time and place, displaying the action and beauty of early F1 racing. The film has enjoyed a positive reception from critics and audiences alike for its superb acting and well-paced plot, although the film may not be as action-packed as some racing fans had expected. "Rush" is an entertaining film that tells an intriguing true story, and it belongs among the film collections of F1 fans everywhere.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5