It’s been a while since Ron Howard connected with audiences with a film.
Rush, which opens Sept. 27, changes that.
After the positively wretched and unhinged The Dilemma of a couple of years ago, it’s good to see him artistically rejuvenated and making movies that not only entertain, but offer salient observations on the human experience.
Such is the case of Rush, the story of rival auto racers Niki Lauda (relative unknown Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth of Thor fame). It looks rather intimately into what motivates men to do what they do.
In this case, Hunt and Lauda meet on the in European open wheel circuit and promptly become rivals. Hunt’s a free spirit who gets off on the rush of speed, competition and winning. A straight-up adrenaline junkie, about the only thing he takes seriously in life is his auto racing.
Lauda? The exact opposite. Or so it would seem. He’s driven to be the best by the scientific and business aspects of the sport. Adrenaline? He’s ice cold. It’s work to him.
But their lives intersect on the track in some race scenes that thrill, but have been criticized in some quarters. That’s neither here nor there to the overall thrill of this film.
The height of the Hunt-Lauda rivalry comes in 1976 when they battled for the world’s championship in the sport. Hunt has issues with the legality of his car, according to the film and he suspects that Lauda is behind reporting him to maintain his points lead.
They race close throughout the 1976 season and the competition grows fierce between the two, so much so that it’s likely that common sense takes a backseat in some regards.
Such is the case in a pivotal race with inclement weather. With heavy rain predicted, Lauda wants to postpone the race, but Hunt convinces the other drivers to go ahead. Lauda, competitor that he is, sticks it out.
It proves to be a tragic mistake as he crashes and is severely burned before rescuers can get to him. His survival is questionable until he sees that Hunt is making serious progress catching up to him, a fact that inspires a remarkable comeback. He returns to the racing circuit in less than two months, setting up the obligatory showdown.
In Rush Hemsworth proves that he’s not just a pretty face when it comes to acting. He shows real depth in filling in the person that was Hunt. Bruhl does the same as Lauda, seemingly absorbing the negativity shown the character and channeling it into his performance.
But what Howard does with a script from Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) is show how different these two men are but in the end they are the same.
Why did they both come to auto racing?
Because they couldn’t find anything else to be passionate about. It’s quite obvious that with Rush that Howard shows the most passion he’s shown in some time.
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl
Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use.
Running time: 123 minutes
George’s rating: 4-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com