MoviefiedNYC reviews Rush

Rush, Ron Howard’s latest film delves into the high octane world of Formula One racing.  Based on a true story, it focuses on the 1976 season and the spectacular rivalry between showy British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and abrasive but talented Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).

Disliking each other from almost the beginning of their careers in Formula Three racing, the rivalry came to a head during the 1976 season.  Through love, sex, affairs, death, and injury, Lauda and Hunt’s main focus is always on their unending feud.  Ultimately, as they continue to battle, they realize that they not only respect one another, but the rivalry has brought out the best of their abilities. 

It has been a while since Howard has created such an in-your-face life or death drama.  In recent years, Howard has explored the worlds of schizophrenia (A Beautiful Mind), Dr. Seuss (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), and religious mysteries (The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons); however, he has not lost a step in creating the same suspense that he expertly produced in 1995’s Apollo 13.  Knowing almost nothing about the actual events, I found myself clutching the armrest of my chair and even grabbing my neighbor during the last quarter of the film.  (Luckily, my neighbor was a friend, so it wasn’t as weird as it sounds.) The racing sequences, in particular, are filmed superbly, both from the point of view of the driver and of the spectators.  For the briefest of moments, you feel as if you are in the car with Lauda and Hunt, going for the gap and hugging the inside.  

While Rush doesn’t pander to the audience, it does explain the events vividly.  Screenwriter Peter Morgan fleshes out the motivation of the main characters so well, that you don’t know whose side of the rivalry you are on.  The characters are surrounded by lovers, wives, colleagues, and other drivers, but they seem to always be slightly detached, almost defying the old adage that “no man is an island.” By the time of the final race which will determine the World Champion, the audience is caught knowing that while there will be great joy for the driver who wins, the joy will be dampened and tinged with melancholy for the runner up.  The champion will have victory on his island while the defeated will remain unfulfilled.  Regardless, the audience still went on a great ride.

[Grade: A-]

-Ariadne Ansbro

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