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RUSH – Review

September 10, 2013

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


Christian McKay’s character Alexander Hesketh makes an interesting observation towards the beginning of Rush, suggesting that the only thing men like more than women is cars. You could be forgiven for thinking that Rush is simply another loud, brash car movie aimed solely at the male gender. Fortunately the cars and the noise are only half the story of this film.

Rush is centered around the rivalry between Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his Austrian counterpart Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), chronicling their early days racing against each other in Formula 3 through to their epic battle for the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship. The intense nature of their relationship and the dramatic manner in which it all unfolded in reality certainly makes it prime material for a standard Hollywood, racing blockbuster but those who walk in expecting The Fast and the Furious with Formula 1 cars will be severely disappointed. Without resorting too much to indie-lingo cliché, the action scenes are shot with certain gritty/ grounded approach. The camera cuts at a frenetic pace, appearing in just about every position director Ron Howard could find on a vehicle, including some rather satisfying shots from under the clutch pedal and in front of Chris Hemsworth’s blood-stained gear stick (not a euphemism). The wide shots are kept to a minimum, which helps firmly place the audience at the heart of the action and Howard couples this with the raw, violent blasts of the exhaust and engine to make the viewer really feel like they’re sitting in the drivers seat with Lauda and Hunt.

All of Howard’s hard work in bringing the audience as close to the experience as possible pays off in the film’s most iconic moment; Lauda’s legendary crash in the second lap around the Nürburgring is captured in a horrifying manner, viewed from behind Lauda’s visor as the flames rise up around him – impressive stuff from the man who directed The Da Vinci Code…


However, as good as race scenes are, they are forced to play second fiddle in this movie to the wonderfully scripted lead performances of Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl. Hemsworth’s James Hunt is the more immediately likeable of the two characters, with his easy, natural charm making him the perfect archetypal playboy. His opposite number brings the best out of him though, finding the holes in his façade of blue eyes, sex and swagger and exposing the well-hidden fears and humility in Hunt. Brühl’s wildly contrasting Niki Lauda’s layers are less well defined; he appears to be nothing more than a shrewd, blunt, by-the-numbers “asshole”. But his cold-hearted, almost inhuman persona thaws just enough throughout the movie to create a character you end up rooting for in equal measure with Hunt.

Perhaps what makes this movie so compelling is how beautifully writer Peter Morgan blurs the line between antagonist and protagonist. The distinction appears immediate, but by the end of the movie you will be questioning your earlier assumption. In short, Rush makes The Fast and the Furious look like a film with about as much depth as an episode of Wacky Races.

Rush is released in UK cinemas this Friday, September 13th

Thomas Eldred