A whooshing good “Rush”
In a year that has thus far seen few truly memorable films—can you name one slam dunk, guaranteed Oscar worthy film released in 2013—“Rush” whooshes in and makes a compelling argument for such a distinction. Even if you don’t know your Formula One from Baby Formula, director Ron Howard has fashioned a powerful drama about rivalry and competition wrapped in an electrifying Grand Prix context that will thrill even novices to the sport.
The story follows two real drivers, Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brűhl) and their concurrent ascent in the 1970s to the open-wheeled Formula One circuit, where manufacturers like Ferrari and McLaren built cars that hit speeds over 170 mph.
The highly dangerous nature of the sport has always demanded unique personalities of its drivers, and while they shared a similar passion, the distinct perspectives of both drivers were legendary. Hemsworth is exceptional capturing Hunt’s playboy recklessness (and Thor-like blonde locks), while Brűhl is captivating as the less likable Lauda, with his penchant for methodical calculation. Both men respected the life-threatening aspect of the sport that brought them together, but handled both the pressure and the preparation necessary to win very differently.
This is easily one of Howard’s best films, certainly the best since his run of great films in the early 90s, and he’s helped tremendously by the mesmerizing script by screenwriter Peter Morgan, who also collaborated with Howard on “Frost/Nixon” and produced the terrific screenplay for “The Queen.” The narrative depicts two rivals who learn to respect but despise each other until a dramatic event forges a bond that will seal the inseparability of their legacies.
Like few other movies, the camera work conveys a meticulous, bordering on vertiginous, sensation of being behind the wheel of a high speed race car. From the rain-soaked face shield that makes clear vision almost impossible, to the roaring, fiery exhaust of the supercharged engines – “Rush” is a feast for the senses as well as a riveting story that masterfully leads to a suspenseful, heart-pounding conclusion.
Given an “R” rating primarily for brief nude sequences and a few, largely anachronistic “F-words,” the film is actually undermined by this content because its inclusion will dissuade many, including cautious parents (at a sizeable box office loss) from seeing this otherwise inspiring film.
But “Rush” is a film that should be remembered come Oscar time, and whenever fast cars and great films are discussed.
Rated “R” for sexual content, nudity, language, disturbing images and brief drug use.