James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth – Thor) and Niki Lauder (Daniel Brühl – Inglourious Basterds) fought on and off the tracks during a tumultuous relationship that saw both men vie to become Formula 1 World Champion. Their remarkable true story charts a rise to prominence for both men through obstacles and emotional turmoil into one of sports greatest ever rivalries – something that pushed both men to their limits and beyond.
Rush is a curious project for Ron Howard to tackle. A self-confessed novice to motor racing, Howard has directed a quite beautiful ode to one of the most remarkable true stories the world of sport has ever witnessed. Rush harks back to a time when men were men and they risked their lives for the glory. Rush comes from an era where death in Formula 1 was a regular fixture yet it acts as a perfect snapshot into this amazing, exciting and tragic world of motor sport.
Chris Hemsworth does a stellar job in portraying James Hunt in a believable but captivating way. You can easily see why Hunt was loved by millions – he was everything the classic danger man should be. A womaniser, hard drinking and party loving, but with bags of charm and an unshakable desire to win Hunt was the post boy for British motor sport and captivated audiences around the world.
Hemsworth never takes his performance for granted and finds the real man beneath the glitz and glamour. It’s true that there is probably a far darker tale to tell about James Hunt’s tragic life, but this film is about one particular moment in his life – which found Hunt in the best form of his life and chasing immortality on the tracks.
Daniel Brühl equals Hemsworth at every turn with his own cultured portrayal of Niki Lauder. Nailing every aspect of Lauder’s abrasive and pragmatic personae, Brühl is a joy to watch and delivers a career-highlight performance. Both Hemsworth and Brühl make Rush the success that it is thanks to their boundless energy and a desire to do their counterparts real justice. Their chemistry and magnetism hook you from the start and take you into overdrive with performances that should surely gain awards season recognition.
The supporting cast are all superb with Olivia Wilde excellent as James Hunt’s wife Suzy Miller. She also has a flawless English accent throughout and shares a wonderful chemistry with Hemsworth. Alexandra Maria Lara is quite perfect as Lauder’s wife Marlene and gives the film even more emotional depth with her subtle performance. Elsewhere, there are memorable turns from Pierfrancesco Favino and Christian McKay as Alexander Hesketh.
The film is shot beautifully and keeps things fresh by changing style throughout. It’s a perfect ode to the era with a staggering attention to detail, right down to the sponsors logos. That infamous 70’s haze that seemed to appear on all stock footage from the period accompanies certain scenes in this film too and gives off a nice sense of nostalgia. The races are never shot in the same way either. There is a montage midway through and even this takes on a different style to make every car race feel unique and in the moment.
With all true stories, there is a degree of artistic license that we must take on face value. For the most part, Rush truthfully and astutely charts the fantastical tale of these rivals in staggering detail. There are a few scenes that the screenwriter Peter Morgan has embellished for the good of the story, but by his own word, Morgan recognises this by saying that everything he put in the movie was his interpretation of the relationship he felt Lauder and Hunt shared – their mutual respect, their driven ambitions and their polar-opposite personalities.
Rush is an adrenalin-soaked delight from start to finish. It encapsulates everything you want from a sports movie and the fact that this is based on a true story only heightens your enjoyment of the spectacle. With strong performances, assured direction by Howard and amazing set-pieces, Rush is easily one of the cinematic highlights of the year and should not be missed.