There have not been a lot of good racecar driving movies in the past 20 years aside from the superb 2011 documentary “Senna.” Director Ron Howard’s latest film, “Rush,” not captures the action on the Formula 1 track, but he also focuses on the action off the track with a rivalry between two race-car drivers with different personalities that enthralled the racing world in the 1970s.
James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is a flashy British thrill-seeker who comes from a working class background to becoming one of the best drivers in Formula 1. Although comes from a wealthy Austrian family, Nikki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) goes against his father’s wish to fulfill his dream to become the best Formula 1 driver of all time. From the first time they meet, Hunt and Lauda do not get along whatsoever. As their careers progresses over the years, their desire to win begins to consume their personal lives until there is a tragedy on the track that alters them in different ways.
With “Rush,” Howard has crafted his most entertaining film to date. With the racing sequences in the film, Howard found a unique way to immerse the audience in this world of Formula 1 racing thanks to Anthony Dod Mantle’s (“127 Hours”) cool cinematography and the crisp editing from the Howard’s editors Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill.
Based on a script from Peter Morgan (“The Queen”), the movie is more of a character study of the two rival racers than an action-driven movie. Complete polar opposites, Hunt and Lauda not only have taken different paths to get to where they were in Formula 1, but they have different approaches in terms of their racing style.
Hemsworth as Hunt, the rebel playboy who likes to have fun, is a role that suits the Australian actor well and it’s his best performance to date. However, the true standout is Brühl delivering a terrific performance as Lauda, a head-strong and methodical racer who is willing to use his race knowledge to gain an advantage over Hunt. Even though it is hard to cheer for Lauda at times because of his arrogance, Brühl is able to make his likeable through his determination and quick wit.
As good as the movie is, “Rush” is far from being a flawless movie. Even though some might be familiar with the story of this rivalry, the film still becomes a little predictable as the movie approaches its climax. Even though there are beautiful women that adorn the silver screen in this movie, the primary female characters are not fully fleshed to their full potential. As beautiful as she is, Olivia Wilde is nothing more than eye candy in this movie as Hunt’s ex-wife, Suzy Miller. Alexandra Maria Lara fares much better than Wilde as Lauda’s wife Marlene, but her role is soon relegated to merely reaction shots and playing the cliché role of the wife who loves her husband no matter what.
Despite the lack of compelling female characters, “Rush” is a sports movie that makes the character-driven aspects of the film as compelling as its thrilling racing sequences thanks to the performances of its two lead actors.
“Rush” is now playing in Hialeah theaters. Click here for showtimes.