“Rush” For First in Formula 1

Though Formula 1 has always been a popular auto racing sport across the world, the attempts Hollywood has made to make movies centered on it have been very lackluster. Heck, even Champ Car racing, when it was around, couldn’t get a movie that realistically portrayed the culture of the sport… I’m still talking about you, “Driven.” Fortunately though, director Ron Howard is a savior for showing the true passion and culture of Formula 1 in his new film “Rush.”

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

In the 1976 Formula 1 season, there were two drivers who were the talk of the entire circuit: James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Hunt was a brash, young British driver who had spectacular talent behind the wheel, but also a tumultuous off-track life that shifted through mountains of drinking, drugs and women. Lauda, on the other hand, was an Austrian driver who bought his way into Formula 1 and carried on an obsession of making sure his car was perfect for every race. Throughout the season, the duo developed an intense rivalry that hit a handful of both on- and off-track drama along the way, yet the passion they had to win was what made them continue to give it their all to come out on top as the champion.

In the leads as Hunt and Lauda are Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, respectively. They excellently embody the drivers’ unique personalities. Hemsworth delivers the best performance of his career so far as Hunt, mostly by being effortlessly charismatic with anyone alongside him on screen, yet also quite convincing in expressing the raw emotions he can’t control from his personal demons.

Surprisingly though, it’s Brühl who stands out performance-wise. There were a multitude of stressful situations Lauda had to battle throughout the aforementioned F1 season, and Brühl succeeds in conveying them in a profoundly effective way. Though Lauda wasn’t as charismatic a figure as Hunt, it was the passion he had to win that truly drove his chase for the championship, and Brühl’s performance drives that aspect into full throttle.

Outside the strong performances, the oversaturated visual style that director Ron Howard gives to the film is quite striking in its imagery. It not only recreates the exuberance of the 1970s to a great effect, but also adds to the suspense of the many racing scenes featured throughout. This visual style also owes a lot of its aid to cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, who places the camera in unique positions for the racing scenes, whether it’s inside or outside of the car itself.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

In another pair of predictable outcomes, Hans Zimmer’s score is impressive, while Peter Morgan’s script packs together a solid balance of engaging drama, dialogue and a general sense of excitement. The banter between Hunt and Lauda is always joyous in how they make constant verbal jabs at each other, however the scenes that showcase their lives off the track are also well portrayed without ever being too sentimental.

If there’s anything that “Rush” will divide people on, it will most likely be how the story is told. If you’ve seen a true story sports movie before, this one initially may not seem too different. However, since I knew little to nothing about the final outcome of the Hunt/Lauda rivalry, I was pleasantly surprised by how their chase for the championship ended. Furthermore, I conducted research on the 1976 Formula 1 season itself and realized that there were very few inaccuracies in regard to how certain events did play out.

“Rush” may not be a masterpiece for the true story sports subgenre, but it’s certainly the most engaging and thrilling entry into that genre in the past decade. It’s a triumphant return to form for Ron Howard as a director, in addition to serving as a rich showcase for Hemsworth and Brühl as sufficient lead stars for the future. Even if you’re not a Formula 1 fan, you should see this superb film.


RECOMMENDED: This sports drama has the complete package of racing, drama, and 70s culture galore to excite viewers.