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Film Review: Rush

17th September 2013

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If ever we were looking for the greatest ever motor-racing motion picture, than Rush has to right up there.

Set during the 1976 Formula One season, Rush tells the story of the intense rivalry between disciplined Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and charismatic Englishman James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). Rush also sees the much anticipated reunion between American director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) and British writer Peter Morgan - the two men that previously worked together to give us the unforgettable Frost/Nixon.

The narrative of Rush is quite simple. The film takes on the perspectives of both Lauda and Hunt as they overcome financial and family problems to achieve their dreams of reaching the pinnacle of motor racing, Formula One. It’s the two men’s diverse tactics and personalities that ignite a fierce and intense rivalry between them. On one side of the formula, you have the recklessness of Hunt, and on the other, the scientific precision of Lauda. Put them together, and an explosive outcome is inevitable. And not wanting to ruin the film, but it’s this explosive outcome that changes everything for the two men.

The story of the 1976 Formula One season comes to life in spectacular form on track. But the brilliance of Rush is not limited to the track, for the first time the private lives of both Hunt and Lauda are shown for all to see and scrutinise. Not to say that Hunt’s private life is fully on show in Rush, but you are given a glimpse of the reasoning behind his decision to treat life with loose morals.

Rush follows Lauda and Hunt as they push themselves to both physical and psychological breaking points to ensure total and complete victory. Their intense rivalry is brilliantly portrayed on screen by Hemsworth and Bruhl. Though Bruhl was impressive throughout, in Rush we’re given a glimpse of the full range of acting capabilities of Hemsworth. Hemsworth plays a great Thor in the Marvel movies, but it’s here in Rush his performance excels to new heights. Hemsworth’s Rush role has already seen him being touted as a possible replacement to Daniel Craig as 007. 

But if anyone’s going to get an Oscar nod come next February, it’s more than likely to be Bruhl, who was by no means in the shadow of Hemsworth. To some Bruhl may be a relatively unknown actor, to others he starred in the hit film Inglorious Bastards - where he played a talented German. Unlike Hunt, Lauda comes across as having a deeper and emotional personality and character, which is brilliantly portrayed.

Is Rush Oscar worthy? Director Ron Howard had all the problems of trying to direct a film that had to both accurately depict the intense on and off track rivalry between Lauda and Hunt, but at the same time satisfy the audience’s demands for a fast paced motor racing film. But aided by an Oscar-worthy script (screen writer Peter Morgan successfully manages to cram the impossible into a two hour film), and an Oscar worthy performance, Howard has managed to give full justice to the tale of Lauda and Hunt. 

Rush encompasses all that is great about storytelling on the big screen. It’s fast paced action, and portrayal of two great racing legends leaves little room for criticism. Rush is one of the best films of the year, and come next February all the signs are there that its makers and actors will be cracking open the champagne.

Rush is in cinemas now.

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