Directed by Ron Howard
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde
Here is a racing movie that is both fast and furious, featuring a (near) death race and a day or two of thunder (not to mention blankets of rain).
“Rush,” the new biopic from the “Frost/Nixon” filmmaking duo of director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan, captures the mid-1970s rivalry between a pair of Formula One racers: British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, “Thor”) and methodical Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl, “Inglourious Basterds”).
The drama here forms as many rivalries do: There is the flashy guy who gets all the girls and the glamour, and there is the hardworking guy having to earn his glory.
Their initial showdown begins in Formula Three, which is essentially a minor league for the top-level Formula One. Hunt is the racing bad boy, who carouses and boozes before he hits the track. One prerace vomit later (get used to that, FYI), and he’s good to go: shimmying into his tiny, open-wheeled race car.
Being a biopic, it’s no secret that a major accident on the racetrack severely injures Lauda, which is brutal and hard to watch. Experiencing his recovery from major burns and his journey back to the track are almost as difficult.
While “Rush” does otherwise follow the sports-film formula, Howard and Morgan elevate it by focusing less on the physical elements of racing and more on the emotions behind it.
Hunt and Lauda are so diametrically opposite in their mentality and lifestyle that it was almost inevitable that they would be fierce competitors.
Howard and company perfectly toe the line between these character moments and the serious adrenaline rush of the loud, whirling, revving racing scenes.
Hemsworth and Brühl fully embody these characters, which is so important anytime, but especially in a biopic.
Successful sports films transcend the genre, so that your interest in the actual sport has nothing to do with your enjoyment of the film.
Americans are not, by and large, Formula One fans. This reviewer certainly isn’t.
But “Rush” isn’t really a racing movie. It’s a great, riveting character drama ... that just happens to be about Formula One racing.