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Review: Rush – God of Days of Thunder

Posted by on September 27, 2013 – 12:01 am

RushDo you dig wealthy, arrogant race car drivers? Do you enjoy loud noises and watching cars go in circles? If the answer is, “yes,” to either of those questions, then you will probably enjoy the new film, Rush, a little bit more than I did. That said, director Ron Howard still delivers a masterfully made film, as usual, just not one that I am particularly fond of the subject matter.

Prior to seeing this movie I had never heard of the real-life 1970’s race car champions, Niki Lauda and James Hunt, and after this film I still couldn’t tell you the difference between a Formula One race and a Formula Three race, let alone tell you what happened to Formula Two. So, full disclosure, this review is from the perspective of someone who is completely ignorant of the racing world.

Rush stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, playing British driver, James Hunt. I say this in jest, but really, his cavalier character reminded me a lot of the actor’s best known role as the “God of Thunder” (albeit an R-rated version of the Asgardian hero.) Hunt is an up-and-coming superstar in the Formula racing circuit, and he is as well known for his partying and carousing as he is for his prowess on the racetrack.

Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds ) plays Austrian driver, Niki Lauda, with a personality that is the polar opposite of his biggest competitor, James Hunt. Lauda is introverted, methodical and extremely intelligent, and even though he comes from a wealthy family, he is disowned because of his career choice, but still manages to work his way to the top of the racing profession.

RushThe film focuses on the dramatic rivalry between Lauda and Hunt and, although there is some nice racing action, the movie is at its best when the two racers are facing each other outside of their cars. The story covers the early seventies leading up to the Formula One championship series in 1976, when Niki Lauda is severely injured and burnt, but somehow still manages to get back in the contest after an extended hospital stay.

Howard does an awesome job of capturing the seventies era, a time he certainly knows a lot about as he came of age in 1977 with his first racing movie and directorial debut, the original Grand Theft Auto. Wow, he has had some kind of career, from child star to one of the greatest filmmakers of the past fifty years (there’s a movie for you right there.)

To help anchor the movie in the seventies, a wonderful mix of music from the era is employed, with songs from Thin Lizzy, David Bowie and rockabilly legend, Dave Edmunds. Hans Zimmer does the musical score for the film, which is also excellent.

RushThe movie also stars Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara as the love interests and wives of Hunt and Lauda, respectively, and although they don’t have a lot of screen time, both women fuel the ambitions of the drivers and have a major impact on their lives, but in drastically different ways.

Even though this movie is based on a true story, I have to say that I wasn’t thrilled with the end of this film. Howard does the best he can, considering the facts behind the story, but if you want a stand-up-and-cheer finale, you’ll be much better off with the cartoon racing film, Turbo (which is excellent, by the way.)

Rush is a well-made, well-acted film that is certainly worth seeing, but I think those who have a thing for racing and a knowledge of its heroes and history will find it a much more enjoyable experience than those who don’t. Grade: 6.5/10

Photos © 2013 Universal Pictures