By Dan Metcalf, Jr.
Clipper Film Correspondent
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Calder, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Alistair Petrie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Colin Stinton.
Written by Peter Morgan.
Directed by Ron Howard.
Despite being cited for speeding only a handful of times in my life, I'll admit I like to push the envelope when it comes to driving over the limit, but perhaps I was born for a different purpose – like being a race car driver...you don't know. Either way, race car drivers intrigue me due to their apparently fearless occupation. Such fear and drive are the subtext for Rush, the true story of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula 1 season.
Chris Hemsworth (you know – that Thor guy) stars as Hunt, the dashing English playboy who tore up tracks around the globe with reckless abandon in the early 70s, married a supermodel named Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde). Daniel Brühl plays Austrian Niki Lauda, a cold, focused, efficient and competitive driver with little time for romance and little respect for Hunt.
Rush follows both men's paths to the top of the Formula 1 ranks in 1976, when they swapped places on the leader board from time to time, until they captured the attention of the world in a close finish at the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Raceway. Along the way, both drivers gain respect for each other – and one of them suffers from a major crash.
Rush was directed by Ron Howard, and contains many of his trademarks, including plenty of news or play-by-play commentary that plays almost constantly during the movie (much like Apollo 13). That may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much explanation you need to fill in the blanks. Unless you were an adult or at the very least a racing fan back in 1976, there are a lot of blanks to fill in, like the Formula 1 scoring system (and who the heck Niki Lauda and James are), such explanations are helpful. If you like minimalist cinema or were already familiar with Hunt and Lauda (making you closer to senior citizen status than most), such droning exposition might be annoying. I have vague memories of watching some of those races on ABC's The Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay when I was a teenager, so Ron Howard's descriptive methods were helpful – while creating a sense of remembrance of life back then. The race cinematography, sound and score contribute to make Rush a heart-pounding movie experience.
The cast is more than adequate, but the casting and performance of Brühl should draw extra accolades for Rush. Brühl not only personifies the competitive nature of the Austrian, he's nearly a spitting image of him. Hemsworth also captures the looks and attitude of the carefree Hunt rather well.
So, if like a good biographic drama with a a fair amount of racing thrills, Rush is for you.
Oh and and one more thing. Rush is rated R, and for good reason (it's been a while since The Grinch for Howard, no?). There is some sex and nudity (mostly involving Hemsworth, ladies), along with a fair amount of disturbing images involving a burn victim – so leave the little ones at home before racing out to see Rush.