Acclaimed director Ron Howard deserves immense credit for crafting one of the best sporting dramas in recent history.
It depicts – and somewhat exaggerates – the Formula One racing rivalry between British ‘playboy’ driver James Hunt and disciplined Austrian legend Niki Lauda in the mid-seventies, when death was sadly a regular occurrence.
Two stand-out performances from Thor himself Chris Hemsworth as McLaren star Hunt, and particularly – and we’re talking a possible Oscar-nomination here – Daniel Bruhl as Ferrari driver Niki Lauda, really makes it an intriguing watch for cinema-goers of all ages.
That coupled with some slick editing (including arguably some of the best sport-based action seen on screen) and perfectly weighted set pieces, turns Rush into one of the best movies of the year from the Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind.
Centred (mainly) around Hunt and Lauda’s battle for the title in the 1976 championship, it particularly depicts Lauda’s battle back from a life-threatening crash that leaves his face burnt and lungs severely damaged.
The two hours run-time simply doesn’t allow enough time to really dissect Hunt’s (who died of a heart-attack aged 45) ‘non-stop party’ life – even though it does touch on his marriage to model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) – but gives enough of a glimpse to help weave an interesting screenplay.
But it’s Bruhl’s exhilarating performance as Lauda which is the real winner here – he’s so good he could actually be THE Niki Lauda – even though his more seriously straight-laced lifestyle is arguably easier to portray than Hemsworth’s role as Hunt.
Rush slows to intermittently border on the formulaic – which prevents it from ever reaching classic status – but with so much to tell that’s an understandable criticism that can generally be overlooked.
Time will tell if this movie will mean more to the British and European audiences than the American market, but this deserves immense recognition – and is undoubtedly one of the movie surprises of the year.
Just like with Hunt’s life, Howard lives this movie to the full – and produces one viscerally slick and competently well-oiled machine.
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Pierfrancesco Favino, Julia Rhind-Tutt, Natalie Dormer
Running Time: 2hrs
Director: Ron Howard[youtube id=”L_u3FODrenM” width=”600″ height=”350″]