I've never been into racing. I don't watch NASCAR or anything of the sort. Never have. Most car movies usually do not do for me either, I've just never found the sport sub-genre very interesting. There are some car movies I like ("Fast & Furious," "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "Talladega Nights" all come to mind.) but they are mostly guilty pleasures more than anything.
Leave it up to none other than Ron Howard to turn that bias around. I initially wanted to view because I like Ron Howard as a director, and I love both Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl as performers. I had hope for the early critical buzz this film garnered, but that never means that I personally will dig it. Well, I have seen it and I can say to faithfully give into the hype. Howard has created a daring, visually spectacular, adrenaline-pumping racing film. What we love about both Howard and Hemsworth is turned up as high as it will go and relentlessly let loose upon the big screen. Everything that is technical and emotional in this movie is furiously fascinating and it gives good insight on a time that people may find undeniable.
The film centers on the real-life James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Bruhl), two skilled race car drivers who developed a rivalry in 1970 at a Formula Three race at the Crystal Palace circuit in England. That rivarly carries over to 1976 to the Formula One season grand prix, where the brash drivers duke it out internationally. If you don't know anything about Formula One racing, it was a very dangerous branch of racing. Right in the beginning of the movie, our two leads almost die. It was a rough gig for racers back then and the film lends good insight to just how dangerous the sport really was. I was also taken aback at how accurately '70's felt in look, feel and tone. Even listening to the actors talk and studying their mannerisms...it felt like a movie made in the 1970's and I loved that about the film.
Hemsworth and Bruhl do very well with their characters and I loved just how non-bias the entire film was. Howard successfully manages to create a character study about both characters. Yes, Hemsworth's face maybe plastered all over the posters for rush, but this is very much about both James Hunt and Niki Lauda and how their chosen careers both help and hurt their personal lives. Too many times in these types of movies, we are supposed to root for a racer and detest another, but I loved that we learn so much about both guys involved in the rivarly. If you can imagine Thor as a race-car driver, that's James Hunt. Hunt was a cocky, playboy who discovered his true potential. Which is probably why Hemsworth was perfect in the first place. Ever since "Inglorious Basterds" in 2009, I have been waiting for Bruhl big break. Now after "Rush," I can't wait for "The Fifth Estate" later this year. I think he's a unique talent that will continue to entertain as his career goes on. There is also a huge posse of supporting actors; including Christian McKay, Olivia Wilde, Pierfrancisco Favino and David Calder, who all do great work as well.
In a film about racing, the technical aspects totally count. I got to say that I was impressed and pleased by the technical credits. Anthony Mantle's cinematography is both lush and luminous and the editing is fierce. The sound? Holy cow is the sound AWESOME! So awesome that I don't doubt some sound Oscar nominations in February for "Rush." These credits definitely made me feel like I was apart of the races, no easy goal to accomplish.
If you like racing or just good storytelling, "Rush" delivers.
FINAL GRADE: A