Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Rush’ Review: Ron Howard’s Racing Drama is a Winner

Rush is one of those films where the studio releases a weak trailer, because they aren’t quite sure how to market the movie. The first trailer looked like a melodramatic soap opera; the second trailer was 100% Chris Hemsworth, in attempt to persuade the female audience to flock to the theatre; and the final trailer was a little bit a both, with a massive push to draw in racing fans.

Knowing nothing about Formula 1 or the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda, I walked out of Ron Howard’s film completely surprised by how quickly I became interested in the story, proving once again that movie trailers can never be trusted.

Rush tells the story of the 1970s Formula 1 rivalry between an English ladies’ man, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his perfectionist Austrian opponent Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).

Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers) is outstanding and disappears into the role of the famous playboy driver. There is no sign of his most famous role, Thor, in this movie.

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Daniel Brühl (Inglorious Basterds) is flawless as the Austrian racer. Everything from his accent to Lauda’s famous overbite is superb. Stay after the credits to see pictures of the actual drivers. Both Hemsworth and Brühl look eerily similar to the famous racers and having not known this story before, I felt like I experienced the rivalry as it actually happened.

What’s interesting about Rush is the chemistry and relationship between Hunt and Brühl. Here are two men that are completely different in every way, except for their passion about racing and winning.

The supporting actors only enhance our leading men and add a unique vulnerability to their characters. Olivia Wilde plays Hunt’s diva wife Suzy Miller and Alexandra Maria Lara is Lauda’s compassionate wife Marlene.

Howard teamed up once again with screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon and The Queen) and they crafted an engaging story that takes place both on the racing track and in the racers’ personal lives. I’d argue that the conversations between Hunt and Lauda are more intense then some of the racing scenes. For those who aren’t familiar with this story or Formula 1 racing, like myself, will still find themselves on the edge of their seats.

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How cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Trance and 127 Hours) photographs the film only intensifies the story. There is one particular scene in the film where the photography is breathtaking. During the Formula 1 race in Tokyo, everything is shot exquisitely in the pouring rain and we feel like we are right there with the drivers. Hans Zimmer (Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises) composed one of the best scores I’ve heard all year. It’s energetic, heartfelt and is an underlying theme in the film.

Rush is Ron Howard’s best film since 2005’s Cinderella Man, features strong performances by Hemsworth and Brühl, and appeals to all audiences, even if you are not familiar with Formula 1 racing. It’s easily one of the finest films about auto racing ever made.

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