Not a racing fan? Never heard of British Formula 1 racers James Hunt played by Chris Hemsworth or Austria’s Niki Lauda played so well by Daniel Brühl? No problem! That is how riveting director Ron Howard’s new film Rush is. Movies declare themselves heart pounding, but Rush is one of the first movies in a long time that actually delivers.
Rush shares a well-known story to many sports fans about the intense competition between two Formula 1 drivers in the 1970s. Hunt, the handsome playboy, lives the golden life with victory and girls coming fairly easy. Over the years he continually finds himself competing for victory against Lauda.
Lauda, not the most attractive fellow, easily wins as well. However, his victories come from being such a disciplined student of the sport. Lauda actually was born with a silver spoon, but his heart is in racing. Since his dad won’t invest in him, Lauda must climb his way to the top through a blend of analytic prowess and racing skills. His arrogance is rather off-putting but never to the point that the audience hates or even dislikes him deeply.
Lauda is soften up by primarily, because we think we understand his story – his me against the world attitude. He is so self-defacing that he acknowledges awareness people feel like he resembles a rat, claiming it does not even bother him. The second reason we relate to Lauda is through his happenstance romance with the lovely Marlene played by Alexandra Maria Lara. Initially you think, she is pretty and smart, what on earth does she see in him? As we see him more through her eyes, we grow to care more about him.
I will admit the film does a wonderful job of drawing in even the most uninterested (me!) into the world of racing. But while the characters are likeable (or in the appropriate places unlikable), you do not really connect with them as deeply as the tragic situation might call for. The emotional reaction – and again it is heart pounding – comes from the racing. Perhaps that is a reflection of the fact the two men really only comes alive when they were behind the wheel.
If you have seen the trailers you know the story of the tragic accident and Lauda’s heroic fight back. However, one thing that is played up more in the trailers than in the film is the role of Olivia Wilde playing Hunt’s beautiful – but rather brief bride – model Suzy Miller. If you blink she is gone, dumping the depressed Hunt for Richard Burton, which is hard to imagine but true. I felt annoyed because she was such a key part of the trailer and I felt like I had seen half of her performance there.
In the end, Rush is a film, which should be enjoyed in the multiplex so you can “feel” the (brace yourself) rush of the racing. You will enjoy the R rated film for the action and while perhaps you will not have a deep emotional reaction to the story, you will enjoy it.