Back in the Seventies, a couple of racecar drivers as different from each other as Dudley Do-Right and Snidely Whiplash became sworn adversaries on the Formula 1 circuit. England’s James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) was a brash daredevil willing to put his life at risk every time he drove around the track. By contrast, Austria’s Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) was a technical genius who invariably employed a relatively-scientific strategy.
The pair were also polar opposites afterhours, with handsome Hunt being a flamboyant playboy who liked the limelight, while relatively low-key Lauda preferred to spend his free time in peace and quiet with his socialite wife, Marla Knaus (Alexandra Maria Lara). The bitter rivalry between the two came to a head during the 1976 season, when both were in contention for the coveted title of world champion.
That cutthroat quest is the subject of Rush, a character-driven drama
directed by two-time Academy Award-winner Ron Howard (for A Beautiful Mind). Based on a screenplay by two-time Oscar-nominee Peter Morgan (The Queen and Frost/Nixon), the picture’s engaging plotline repeatedly juxtaposes the personas of the leads, painting the hunky Brit as a lovable bon vivant on a crusade to wrest the crown from a defending champ portrayed as just too methodical a nerd to root for.
The movie masterfully depicts the cat-and-mouse mental as well as racecar jockeying which transpires, with the tension mounting at adrenaline-fueled contests staged in international ports-of-call ranging from Brazil to Spain to Monaco to Germany and inexorably leading to a white-knuckle showdown in Japan.
Along the way, we’re treated to the sight of chain-smoking Hunt’s substance abusing and womanizing, as he all but makes a mockery of uptight Lauda’s Spartan regimen. The emotional build-up subtly suggests that getting the checkered flag at Fuji will serve as a confirmation of the eventual victor’s approach.
A compelling, high-octane thriller, literally and figuratively!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, nudity, sexuality, smoking, disturbing images and brief drug use
In English, German, Italian and French with subtitles
Running Time: 123 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
To see a trailer for Rush, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmLvpSOh1QA