Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Peter Morgan
Cast: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth and Alexandra Maria Lara
The fascinating rivalry and friendship between Formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is at the centre of Academy Award winning director Ron Howard’s latest film. Rush is an exhilarating look into the glamourous and dangerous world of Formula 1 racing during what some would call the sport’s peak era of the mid 70’s.
Just as its title suggests, Rush is a loud, fast and completely intoxicating film with blistering race sequences and plenty of heart and soul to match.
Historically, Lauda and Hunt were as polar opposite as they come. Lauda, the level-headed Austrian, was calculated and controlling of almost everything to assure his chances of winning. Whereas Hunt, the carefree English playboy, was purely in the business of car racing for the passion and thrill of it.
Their rivalry began early, with both of them competing on the Formula 3 tracks before Lauda made the giant leap of buying his way into the Formula 1, with Hunt perusing hot on his tail.
The film manages to perfectly balance the work-life aspect of both men’s lives. Although the car races are where the film’s true thrill is located, it is in the private scenes – either between the men and their wives, or their off-track relationship with each other – that the film becomes profoundly masterful.
But saying that, the race scenes are truly spectacular. This is when Howard can really show off his talent and the thrill between life or possible death is shown. Howard’s directing is stylish, sleek and sophisticated as the cars speed around extremely dangerous tracks at 200 mph in a blinding flash of colour and fumes.
Neither Hunt nor Lauda can be truly seen as the film’s main protagonist/antagonist. This is simply because they are both given equal and contrasting empathy and criticism, allowing the audience to decide whom they wish to cheer for.
However, just after the halfway point the film’s plot pace switches, altering the audience’s perception and sympathy towards both the men.
This change of pace is of course due to Niki Lauda’s devastating crash on the 1976 German Grand Prix circuit at the Nüburging. The accident shook the world of Formula 1 racing to its core and left Lauda, the then F1 World Champion, permanently disfigured.
Brühl portrays the pain and anguish of Lauda during this time flawlessly, depicting his heartbreak as he was forced to watch Hunt win races whilst bedridden, and also the courage he gathered to begin racing again only 6 weeks after the crash. The German actor’s performance is a true standout of the film as he characterizes Lauda with an overly confident disposition that becomes admirable and almost even endearing by the film’s end.
Australia’s Chris Hemsworth doesn’t quite hold his ground next to Brühl, but his performance of Hunt is certainly a step up from his most famous role as the stoic Thor and a giant leap from his corny days at Summer Bay. Hemsworth certainly looks the part for Hunt, and his cocky arrogance is pitch perfect for portraying a man who literally lived his life in the fast lane.
Ron Howard’s Rush will no doubt be a big hit at next year’s award season, for both the director, his writer and his stars. With its close attention to replicating the true events as accurately as possible, Rush is so much more than just a sports movie about battles between revheads, it’s about the struggles that both Hunt and Lauda had to overcome in order to achieve their dreams – that is, becoming Champion of the World.