Most racing or car related films pale in comparison to the “The Fast and the Furious” franchise. While the series is improving with each installment, it’s also a massive hit at the box office. Discovering a racing film that isn’t an overflowing garbage heap seems like a victory in itself with this year’s “Getaway” failing to shake that impression. While there isn’t really a Formula One racing film to compare to Ron Howard’s “Rush” (unless the Sylvester Stallone starring “Driven” from 2001 counts), the Nascar themed “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” came to mind with Jackie Chan’s “Thunderbolt” coming in a close second. Remarkably enough, “Rush” shakes off whatever misconceptions you may have about the film going into it and may be one of 2013’s most entertaining films.
“Rush” is based on the true story of the relentless rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) between 1970 and 1976. You witness the two very different stories of how the two became pro race car drivers with Hunt slowly building his way up and earning the respect of others despite his reckless ways and Lauda doing everything himself, paying his way into the field, and quickly developing a reputation as an extremely headstrong loner.
The most unexpected element of “Rush” is how genuine the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda becomes. What begins as a rivalry slowly evolves into what feels like a friendship that is filled with mutual respect for one another. Even when they’re trash talking one another, you can sense that everything they say and do to each other only loads another clip in the ammunition that represents their passion and desire to win.
The first-class cinematography will easily ignite the adrenaline rush in you, as well. The camera always seems to be just in the right place at the right time to make you feel like you’re sitting in the car along with these drivers feeling the roar of the engine and racing around death-defying turns; seeing the drivers shift gears, close-ups of screaming engines at the start of the race, the perspective of someone being right on the tail of the leader through their side mirror, and pistons pumping like there’s no tomorrow only fuel your desire to see more. You even seem to have low-visibility just like the drivers when it’s raining on the race track. These are some of the best racing sequences to be filmed in quite some time.
Formula One drivers are as famous as rock stars in “Rush.” There are always countless fans waiting for an autograph outside of public places, constant press, loads of money to be made, and an endless line of women waiting to sleep with a man who gets behind the wheel and drives in circles at 170 mph. Maybe being born 10-15 years after the fact factors into it, but it becomes a bit difficult to believe that drivers were basically porn stars that women lusted over and threw themselves at as if the drivers were members of The Beatles. While the film’s early moments are intriguing, at its core the first 30 or so minutes are nothing more than a pissing contest between two stubborn men acting like children and it becomes a little tiresome until they reach the pro circuit. Then there’s Olivia Wilde who proves once again that she’s the queen of taking minor roles in bigger films that don’t really go anywhere.
“Rush” will reel you in with its heart pounding and breathtaking racing sequences, but the biographical action film will win you over with its compassion. Absolutely exhilarating, amusing, and passionate to the very end, “Rush” is a film that has no right to be as good as it is.
“Rush” will be released in theaters across the country starting today, September 27.