I love biodramas, especially when they carry the pedigree of the team that was put together for Rush. Directed by Ron Howard – with previous hits such as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Cinderella Man – and screenplay by Peter Morgan – with the experience of screenwriting for Frost / Nixon, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Last King of Scotland, and The Queen under his belt – Rush tells the story of the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. There possibly couldn’t be a better team than these two for attempting to tell the story.
I am not particularly fond of or follow Formula 1, despite having attended two F1 races in person. Yet even for someone who absolutely has no idea of the backstory or an interest in motorsport racing, the film has enough going in the drama aspect to keep the most disinterested viewer engaged. This is partly helped by the colourful character that Hunt was, a sort-of playboy who stumbled onto race driving when not sleeping around with anything with a pair of legs and boobs. I can’t think of anyone other than Chris Hemsworth to play the part.
The counterbalance to Hunt’s character in that of Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Bruhl, couldn’t be starker in contrast. A fastidiously disciplined driver who didn’t believe in showing off like Hunt did, nor enjoying the popular support among his peers for his personality, it’s apparent that Lauda was a character at once to be admired and respected without being likeable. Lauda suffered one of the most horrific car crashes in Formula 1 history which left him in a searing inferno, with much of his face burned off. You can’t help but admire his resolve as he fights for his life in the hospital and makes it back onto the track in time to defend his world championship position. It’s fascinating how Hunt and Lauda start with despising each other, and then eventually learning to respect each other in how they both drove the other to accomplish what neither thought they could motivate themselves to do.
As always for a Ron Howard film, the cinematography is spectacular. He works magic in being able to take filming cars going around on a racetrack – never an easy task during live races due to production constraints – and breathes life into it. Fast cars, gorgeous women, larger-than-life characters – Rush has it all.
Rating: 4 / 5