No matter how hard I try, I can never hear Ron Howard’s name and not think of The Andy Griffith Show. That innocent little boy running next to his T.V. dad, picking up a rock and skipping it in the water as that famous whistled tune plays. Now, all grown up, Opie is directing very adult themed films and I can’t help but giggle about that just a little bit. With such an expansive career, Howard is still impressing people with every new effort and each time he gets a little farther from that little boy skipping rocks. His newest film, Rush, delves into the elite and very dangerous world of Formula 1 Racing, and it certainly is exciting to watch. As thrilling as the race scenes are, for me they were second to the very temperamental relationship between two very real racers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
The racing parts were very good but felt too familiar to be anything really great or memorable. I couldn’t help but feel like I’de seen it already. The best parts of this film are when the two main characters, Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Lauda (Daniel Brühl), clash off the track and they do so quite a bit. There is a level of hatred there but also, eventually, a certain level of respect for one another. They are the motivation that each of them needs to keep the insanity of getting in a race car and traveling 170mph going. They each face adversity in the world of Formula 1 but seeing the other guy succeed just pisses each of them off enough to push even harder. They see this as a way of life, but for those around them, those that love and care for them, they see this as a death warrant. This all makes for wonderfully dramatic moments and what elevated the movie from another run of the mill racing film. I think it’s undeniable that when Howard gets involved with a film a certain amount of class will follow along.
In the 70’s two racers took the racing world by storm through a fierce rivalry. James Hunt, the ladies’ man, saw racing as a way to not only quench his thirst for competition and “living on the edge” but as a way to fund his need for having fun. He got caught up in the magic that racing was to him. It had spectacle, women, money, and exhilaration and giving this up was insanity to him; even if it meant his life in exchange. His very angry and serious rival, Niki Lauda, was a man of precision and zero tomfoolery. Even his biggest passion, racing, was nothing more than a means to an end. It was the best way he knew how to make a lot of money. It was also a way to prove to his family that he could be a success outside the family business of lawyers and economists. He saw Hunt as a man who could never be a racing champion and the very thought of it offended him. It was their completely opposite personalities that caused such a ferocious contention between them. Hunt wanted to enjoy life, Lauda wanted to conquer it; both wanted it through racing. Both had the skill and will power to push them to the limit, but stepping back from the edge is when the problems arose. Although the tracks they raced on had turns, the sport for them was very linear, it made sense to them; anything else was secondary.
I said previously that the racing scenes were good but not great. I really did enjoy them but it just wasn’t fresh enough to consider these scenes top notch. I’ve seen racing movies, I’ve seen what happens when a F1 race car zooms passed, creating a very powerful gust knocking anything over that happens to be near it. The action scenes certainly looked beautiful with great CGI but not much else to show off that might impress. I did, however, appreciate the time the film makers put in making the crash scenes as accurate as possible. When a major accident occurs it is replayed when the news shows the shocking footage. The replayed footage shown was actual footage of the real crash that happened way back in 1976. They stayed true to this and it certainly added realism and therefore credibility to the film. I think in the end, racing films just don’t click all the way for me and so I say this; if you like racing films you will probably love Rush.
Chris Hemsworth takes lead in the movie, but it’s Daniel Brühl’s performance that steals the film. Mostly unknown in Hollywood but a quickly rising star, he is able to bring real focus to his character. You can tell that he knew he was playing a real life, still breathing person and he didn’t take this lightly. Lauda himself gave his seal of approval for Brühl’s performance as well as the movie, and I think that speaks volumes on just how well it came out. It’s not exactly my cup of tea but I still thoroughly enjoyed viewing this and I would gladly watch it again in the future if for nothing else than to see the soul these actors put into their characters.
Rated R For: sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use
Run Time: 123 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Pierfrancesco Favino
Directed By: Ron Howard
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3.5/ Acting: 4.5/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 3.5 Nerdskulls
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