In what is perhaps the best racing film I have ever seen (though I will always have a special place in my heart for Days of Thunder), Rush starts its engines and doesn’t stop until the film crosses the finish line! Directed by the legendary filmmaker and actor Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind), Rush is a film that keeps you amped up the entire time you’re in the theater; I don’t think I relaxed back into my seat at all. From the action-packed racing scenes, to the dramatic interactions between the two main characters, this film excels at making you feel like you are right in the middle of the action.
I have been following the filming of Rush thanks to Howard continuously posting pictures and updates on Twitter. While I could tell the film was going to have some awesome shots, I had no idea it was going to contain such vivid cinematography (led by Oscar-winning cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle). I especially love the way the film captures the speed and beauty of the racing scenes, particularly the races that are shot in the rain. It should also be noted how captivating Hans Zimmer’s score is in the film, almost becoming a character itself. It really says a lot when a film’s score is not overpowered by the loud whirring of the Formula 1 cars.
Based on a true story, Rush focuses on the historic rivalry between Formula 1 racecar drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), a chauvinistic, yet fearless Englishman with extraordinary driving talent, and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), a stern, hard-working Austrian with a talent for increasing the speed of cars. The storyline follows each man’s personal life, their individual quest for the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship title, and their contentious relationship with one another. James lets it be known that he thinks Niki is a “rat”, who paid his way into Formula 1 races as opposed to proving his talent in the lower leagues. Niki, on the other hand, believes James is an arrogant, chauvinistic playboy who cares more about the spoils of racing (money, booze, women) than the prestige of the sport. This difficult relationship comes to a head throughout many scenes on and off the racetrack.
For those of you, like myself, who don’t know the real story, think of it as the Formula 1 version of Ricky Bobby vs. Jean Girard (without the Shake N Bake of course). On that note, if you are not aware of the outcome of this unbelievable story, keep it that way. I think the movie will be that much better if you aren’t sure who is going to win in the end. There is also a shocking injury that one of drivers’ encounter, which could not only ruin their chance at victory, but could change their life forever.\
Ron Howard excels at creating masterful character-driven films, such as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind; Rush is no different. From the incredible supporting cast, featuring Olivia Wilde as Suzy Miller (Hunt’s wife and the woman who ended up coming between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), to the two lead actors Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, Howard really knows how to highlight the characters in a story. Hemsworth and Brühl shine as two men that are on the exact opposite side of the personality spectrum, but who are using their different strengths to achieve the same goal. This rivalry is the backbone of the story, and is what really keeps the storyline moving. Not only were both of the actors’ performances fantastic, but they also bear a striking resemblance to their real-life counterparts. At the end of the film, Howard pays tribute to the real Hunt and Lauda through photographs and this gesture really highlights the strength of the casting.
Rush is definitely a film you want to see in theaters. From the thrilling sound effects and score, to the incredible cinematography, experiencing this film in a theater will make you feel like you are at the racetrack along with Lauda and Hunt. It is easily the best racing movie I have seen and will be an instant hit amongst race fans, as well as fans of great character-driven films.
My Review: A-