Let’s get one thing straight: I am no car fan. Not only do I avoid Top Gear and have never watched a Formula 1 race, I’ve zero interest in automobiles in general and refuse to drive. All I know about cars is that red ones tend to go faster than blue ones.
And yet I loved this film about men and their passion for motors.
So if you feel yourself being put off Rush by the sight of wheels, don’t, because this is a truly amazing story that’s told with compelling skill by one of the film world’s greatest craftsmen: Ron Howard. Like his previous best work – Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon - the subject matter is factually based and, in the case of the latter film, the writer involved is Peter Morgan, who also wrote The Deal and The Queen.
In lesser hands this story could’ve backfired - given that it’s such a great tale it might be considered ‘easy’ and end up being a parody. Instead, Howard and Morgan should be very proud of their accomplishments. Rush is a treat from start to finish.
It’s 1976 and the battle for the Formula 1 championship is between hardcore-partying posh kid James Hunt (played by Thor man Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), a meticulous, socially-inept Austrian who turned his back on his family of financiers to pursue his motor-racing dream.
The beauty of this story is that Hunt and Lauda are both after the same goal, but with completely different approaches that reflect their personalities. Hunt likes taking risks and being rock ‘n’ roll; Lauda is all about detail and playing percentages.
Contextually, these were the last years of the old-fashioned Formula 1, where death was a regular occurrence and drivers enjoyed cheating the grim reaper while driving like demons on death-trap circuits. Lauda is one of the new breed, which would lead to the sport becoming much safer (and more lucrative) for an increasingly methodical brand of driver.
Both male leads take on their roles with remarkable skill, but Brühl nicks it with an astonishing performance – his portrayal borders on the scary; he is Lauda.
The racing scenes are remarkably realistic and there’s very little CGI, which makes a pleasant change. It's also unnecessary. This gloriously fun film revolves around the mind games between Hunt and Lauda, one of sport’s greatest rivalries, and that’s where Rush is at its best, in the heads of its protagonists.
Right. I'm off to buy a Ferrari.