WRITTEN BY: Peter Morgan
DIRECTED BY: Ron Howard
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara
RATING: 3.5 stars
If you love Formula One, you will probably love Rush. If not, you might still like it because despite all the scenes full of fast cars and racing jargon, the film is still essentially a human interest story based on true events and real people. In fact, sport has often given Hollywood a great story-telling opportunity. While many have been made about football and boxing, few have dared to venture into the world of car racing. But director Ron Howard has crafted a film that is engaging to both men and women, whether they are racing fans or not. Written by Peter Morgan, who also wrote The Queen and Frost/Nixon, Rush only falters a little by being too dramatic in parts and about 15 minutes too long due to all the unnecessarily long speeches.
Set mostly during the dangerously climactic 1976 racing season, Rush chronicles the fierce rivalry between British racer James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). As they worked their way up the racing ranks, the pair eyed each other off as a main competitor and locked horns over their vastly different approaches to the sport. Hunt, who was rumoured to have slept with 5000 women, was a cheeky playboy who enjoyed his booze and women as much as his racing. But Lauda was an almost humourless mathematician and not nearly as liked by his fellow racers as Hunt. The film also depicts their personal lives and how it effected their careers. Olivia Wilde has a small role as Hunt's wife, while Alexandra Maria Lara plays Lauda's partner.
There are plenty of thrills in the film with roaring engines and the exceptional recreation of several races. The cinematography was particularly impressive in the crash scenes. It was also hard not to gasp and wince at the sight of some of the injuries shown in the film. Rush certainly illustrates the dangers involved in the sport and there are several hospital scenes that are quite gruesome.
Strong performances help make this film worthwhile, particularly from Hemsworth who oozes charm. While some Hollywood hunks try to prove their acting chops by shying away from "pretty boy" roles, Hemsworth has embraced his popularity but has also managed to prove his dramatic abilities through this film. There is a lot more than Thor to Hemsworth, although many viewers will be pleased to know he is naked within the first 10 minutes of the film. Bruhl is also very good, particularly in some of his more emotionally pained scenes.
If you don't already know what happened to Hunt and Lauda, you will find yourself drawn into the story. If you do know their tale, you will be pleased with the depiction on screen. It is a shame the film was not edited tighter to cut out the useless and overly dramatic scenes.