Rush tells the thrilling and at times grisly story of the rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda from their early days running up to the 1976 Formula One season. To get straight to the point: Rush is without a doubt my favorite movie of this year so far. And that’s coming from a guy that has never watched Formula One or has any particular interest in the sport.
Right from the beginning the movie lives up to its name. We start off with a flash-forward to a crucial moment later in the film followed by some lower class racing action to introduce the drivers at a point earlier in their careers. The first hour or so is very fast paced and mainly serves to get you excited about the racing and to get you familiar with Hunt and Lauda. This does mean there isn’t a lot of depth in this portion of the film. That’s perfectly all right though, as you’ll be blown away by how they bring the races to life with amazing shots of the colorful tracks and inside the cars with engine noise roaring in your ears (this is definitely a movie to watch in the theater). The first hour flies by before you know it.
Just when this superficial (but very cool) stuff begins to get a bit old, things start getting more serious. The stakes get higher and we get some great character development. The rivalry between Hunt and Lauda is very exciting, but the interesting thing is that there isn’t a good vs. bad guy situation. Hunt is the likeable guy that’s actually kind of a dick, and Lauda is an asshole but turns out is actually kind of likable. Their interaction, and how their relationship evolves, is as well done as the flashy racing scenes. And not in a Disney way where they start off being each other’s nemesis and end up being BFFs either. It feels realistic and stays unpredictable and interesting until the (wonderful) ending.
Chris Hemsworth does a great job as Hunt, but the long haired, jocky, fast-with-women kind of character is a role you would expect him to play. Daniel Brühl’s performance as Lauda is what makes this movie. You almost wouldn’t recognize him from his other more famous roles in Good Bye, Lenin! and Inglourious Basterds, both in his acting and appearance. I’m not sure what the make up department did to alter his facial structure and teeth, but they nailed Lauda’s “ratty” appearance perfectly, and it doesn’t look weird or fake at all.
I can’t go on enough about how impressed I was by how Rush brings the sport and the 70s setting to life. It kind of reminded me of Invictus, with Formula One instead of rugby (and minus the politics), but better. This movie will make you think “oh my God this is amazing, I need to start watching Formula One.” Of course you’re never going to, but that is the effect Rush has on you. Everything from the clothes and the cars with their old school ads painted on, to the famous racetracks around the world is colorfully and vividly brought to life.
The flashy and vibrant imagery is, however, contrasted by the gory consequences of the accidents during the races. We get shown the nasty downside of the sport from the get go in the earlier scenes, but especially during the second half it gets pretty gruesome. It really gets very graphic, so be warned.
I wasn’t familiar with the history of Hunt and Lauda and their rivalry before watching Rush. If you aren’t either I would advise you not to read up on what happened before going in, because man does some heavy stuff happen and not knowing beforehand makes it all the more thrilling and shocking.
Long story short; racing fan or not, go see this movie. It’s amazing. 5 Nerdskulls.