Ron Howard always delivers when he is exploring real people who step up when challenged. In his next outing he lets Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl run around a Formula 1 track as racers James Hunt and Nikki Lauda. This year’s most perfect casting? It just might be. Especially when combined with the eerily similar Olivia Wilde/Suzy Miller and Alexandra Maria Lara/Marlene Lauda, and the timewarped twins Pierfrancesco Favino/Clay Regazzoni. Although it doesn’t have quite as many racing scenes as the title would suggest (Ron Howard didn’t learn anything from Drive there) it still gets the adrenalin pumping while keeping the focus on the characters.
Rush pushes a lot of the right buttons in the racing scenes, and with Hans Zimmer’s epic soundtrack it makes everything just the right blend of serious and badass. If you’ve seen a few racing movies you know the style – quick cuts between the engine and face, then close cut of turn, back to a foot stepping on the gas, etc – but Howard is steady in his direction if not that original. The film mostly, however, explores the rivalry between the two racers, their parallel lives from Formula 3 to 1, and how their opposing world views do not mean they can’t respect each other.
I knew about Nikki Lauda’s life, but nothing in detail. That said, I don’t recommend you google him if you don’t know anything. It will add just a bit more excitement to the last race. As a Formula 1 fan, I enjoyed how the film doesn’t settle on a hero. Despite Lauda having to overcome the most physically, his philosophy in regard to the sport and life in general is not given as the right one. Even to the very end James Hunt is depicted with flaws and heart combined, which Hemsworth does very well.
I admit I was sometimes annoyed at the lack of oversight during the races, but it did occasionally produced the same kick I get when watching the real thing. Rush is a very good film all around, but there just isn’t that much to write home about. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys good dramas and racing films. It has a bit of both. But still, it just didn’t keep me engaged enough to warrant more than a very strong dice roll 4.