Rush may be set in the world of Formula One racing but rest assured this is a sports movie with character, story and drama to burn. Just as 2010’s heartbreaking documentary Senna managed to transcend the sport, so director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan have found a way into this ‘live fast die young’ world so sumptuously it’ll leave you breathless, emotionally invested and compelled from start to chequered flag.
Rush follows two legends of Formula One; on the one hand you have flamboyant English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), on the other the focused Austrian professor Nikki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) as they rose up from Formula Three to become fierce rivals on the F1 circuit. In 1976, with Lauda in his Ferrari and Hunt in his McLaren, the two compete, wheel to wheel, for the coveted Driver’s World Championship. In an era where safety was an afterthought, Hunt and Lauda’s rivalry would ask questions of them on a personal and professional level, leaving one of them scared for life and the other willing to sacrifice everything for the price of victory.
Writer Morgan is no stranger to spinning actual events into a tense and dramatic story, think The Queen, Frost / Nixon and The Last King Of Scotland. Here is a writer able to find the humanity behind icons of their time. Throw in a director who is a dab hand at bringing such true stories to life with films such as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind and Rush has all the ingredients to get your engine revving.
Perhaps most staggering is the way in which Howard and Morgan have not only captured this fierce rivalry but also the very essence of the sport. For those without an interest in F1, Rush is easily a gateway to fall in love with it. For rev-heads it’s an insight into the break-neck power of the sport which will have you falling even further in awe of those men and their magnificent driving machines. For the most part Rush deals in character but it never loses sight of the politics, drama and manipulation of one of the richest sports in the world.
The action is kinetic, Howard covering every angle to create enough velocity to have you gripping the edge of your seat. Every twitch of the car, skid of rubber and missed breaking point is captured in such a way as to have you grimace with terror, even if you know the history of what happened. If anything, not knowing what happened in the sport during that year will only heighten the excitment, allowing a natural and respectful bond to form between two behemoths of F1.
Hemsworth, currently something of a golden boy of Hollywood, is magnetic and powerful as Hunt. Capturing his carefree personality mixed with enough determination to know that living life on the edge might never quite be enough for him. Brühl meanwhile is the pure embodiment of Lauda, his pragmatic, often hostile approach to the sport and his fellow drivers a brilliant disguise for a man desperate to prove his worth while others shower champagne.
On this evidence this is an early contender to challenge those Oscar voters across almost all categories. Rush is a film brimming with action, character and so much torque it’ll have your head spinning.