Director: Ron Howard

Rating: 4/5

Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, chronicles the intense rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The film covers the early stages of the rivalry, but is mainly focused on the 1976 Formula One World Championship. Far more than just a story about sport, screenwriter Peter Morgan (of Frost/Nixon fame) has crafted a clever character study that explores the different ways of coping with pressure and approaching death.

The dedicated, strict Lauda (Bruhl) starts off as the villain, but while he initially appears serious and boring, his is the best character arc of the film. His deep desire to win creates a sound basis from which Morgan is able to deconstruct his character.

Bruhl gives the most outstanding performance of the movie, displaying just the right balance between an emotionless workaholic and a man who realises that there is more to life than racing. It is no surprise that the major plot turn in the movie signals its change from a so-so thrill fest to an emotionally relevant biopic. Much of this success is down to Bruhl and Morgan’s dedication to representing Lauda truthfully.

Hemsworth’s Hunt, on the other hand, is nothing more than a racing playboy who is more interested in proving a point than achieving any kind of greatness. Unfortunately, his character is nowhere near as well-written as Lauda’s. Even so, the film’s value lies in watching the two main actors battle with each other, and is reminiscent of Morgan’s previous work on Frost/Nixon, even if Rush is not as brilliantly composed.

The racing scenes are electric and lend the film a thrilling immediacy that will have even the most anti-petrol-head feeling that rush. Each close call between life and death is jarring to the perfect degree.

Above all, Rush’s greatest achievement is bringing a human side to what seems to be an incredibly technical home for the adrenaline junky. Whether the movie will have the same effect away from the big screen remains to be seen, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving it a go.
This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2013.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 6th October 2013 by Lyle Skipsey.