RUSH: Movie Review

rushIf I wasn’t waiting for the popcorn tub icon to make an appearance to enter the Star Movies Scare-a-thon last night, I wouldn’t have chosen to watch RUSH on cable TV, and I would have missed out. By the end of the film, I almost forgot that I didn’t intend to see it. I wanted to own a copy of the movie on my collection. It was that good.

Rush is a biopic about the epic rivalry of two legendary race car drivers — Englishman James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) in the 1976 F1 racing season. The film chronicled the early days of the two drivers in the F3 racing circuit until they became world champions in the Formula One Grand prix.

First off, I didn’t expect to be blown away by this epic biopic but I truly was. And it was an awesome surprise. Not only did I learn about F1 racing as a sport from this movie but I gained a lot of insight about apparently two of the greatest figures in racing history. At first glance, it would seem that the biopic was about the rise and fall of James Hunt, with Niki Lauda as a supporting figure in his superstar lifestyle, but audiences have a surprise in store as Lauda’s character steals some of Hunt’s thunder as his backstory is revealed throughout the film.

I for one, thought that the best element of the movie was director Ron Howard’s ability to depict on screen the intense rivalry and the fierce competition between Hunt and Lauda, and how they pushed each other to their limits. Howard was able to depict the two characters as equals from beginning to end, and how one could not have been the person they were without the other. Howard was able to establish the opposite roads that the two icons took to become icons in the racing circuit, their polar opposite personalities and work ethics — James, who was a reckless, happy go lucky womanizer oozing with raw talent, and Lauda, a pragmatic descendant of a rich family of businessmen, who made his way in the sport with his talent, hard work, and analytical skills. It was interesting to see the two men face different struggles, make different choices, yet end up competing for the same prize — the world championship and the adoration of the racing industry in an epic battle culminating in the 1976 Grand Prix.

The movie was intense from beginning to end, on the racetrack or off it, and it was owing mostly to the realism in Hemsworth and Bruhl’s portrayal of two larger than life characters. While the rivalry and animosity between the two characters was apparent with each repartee and insult, they also had a fierce loyalty and respect for each other that drove their characters and it was what made this moment of racing history come to life. Its impossible not to empathize with these two characters as audiences will easily identify and respect these men’s journeys in their own right. They earned their place in racing history fair and square no matter what drama they faced in their personal lives behind the scene.

The final dialogue between Hunt and Lauda at the airfield in Bologna, summed up their relationship and differences clearly–  James believing that racing is all about the rush and living for the moment, Niki, firm on his convictions about taking calculated risks, yet there was an underlying acknowledgment in their words about a shared passion for driving. After all, the two men came a long way from the rookies they were in F3, and their shared experiences have brought them closer to each other than they expected. They motivated each other, they envied each other, they respected each other and became one half of the world’s most iconic racing duos in sports history.

Adding to film’s strengths were the raw and extreme scenes, shifting between long shots, close ups and POV shots from the perspective of the racers, coupled with a really strong musical score that accented the danger and drama of each moment. While my favorite race was of course, the one in Japan, the lead ups were equally thrilling and engaging.

All in all, Rush was a movie for the books. Excellently written, with edge of your seat action, a great story and a dramatic finish brought to life by great acting and a unique chemistry between the two lead stars. Its hard to believe that all these happened as is in real life. It was a great call to make a movie out of this because it was like fate wanted it to happen. My only gripe in the movie was that Chris’s accent sounded more Australian/Scot than English.