Rush Review

Published on September 30th, 2013

Grade: B-

Ron Howard’s latest film Rush hit theaters this weekend. It brings the golden age of Formula One racing and the Hunt/Lauda rivalry front and center on the big screen. The movie centers on the 1976 season and the crash that changed Lauda’s life forever. But the rivalry between the two drivers goes all the way back to when they were racing Formula 3 cars and trying to break onto the scene.

Chris Hemsworth gets his first real chance to step outside of the “meat head” role and step into one that’s closer to his real life. No he’s not a playboy like James Hunt was, he’s actually quite the opposite.  However the girls swoon over him and he’s admittedly a bit of a daredevil.  So it was probably closer to real life than playing a God of Thunder. He does a great job of portraying a guy who skates by on his charm and looks, with no worries and living life to the fullest. When a bump in the road hits he throws himself a pity party and doesn’t have the go get it attitude, due to usually having everything handed to him. It made me feel on the fence about James Hunt as a whole. Sure he wanted to win and he wanted to race, but he was only motivated enough when he was so close to losing it all.

Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda was really fantastic though. He’s an actor I wasn’t familiar with. But he looked and was the embodiment of Lauda. Lauda we see has the drive and know how to get where he wants to be in the racing world. He’s blunt and very meticulous which gave him an edge.  Bruhl also had to dedicate more time to his role, wearing prosthetic for a portion of filming. I believed I was watching the Niki Lauda even though it was Bruhl bringing the role to life.  I’m curious to see what his next role will be like.

The film was shot masterfully, it is Ron Howard after all. He has a fantastic eye. I even enjoyed the retro look that it had to it. I’m sure it was a filter added in post, but it gave a film like quality to the movie and it was fitting for a film taking place in the 70’s.

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda (Background) star in Ron Howard's Rush. (copyright Universal Pictures)

Now here’s my beef with the movie. I understand they were telling two sides of a story, two racers and how their paths crossed to create a rivalry and motivate one another. The two stories were just two extremely different and that may be how it really was, but the transitions didn’t feel right. I also found Hunt’s story making him come off rather hollow, and petty. The best scenes with Hunt were when he was putting in the work, and a fantastic scene where he beats the daylight out of a reporter. Showing he had redemptive qualities and wasn’t just a pretty face, but it often falls short for the fun free loving version of the man.

Then the race scenes, often times the important races were showing in one lap or two, which is quite misleading. The races take hours and I didn’t think that was necessary either, but it’s not always the last lap struggle that wins or loses a race.

But by far for me the worst was when Lauda was in the hospital after his wreck. Believe me, we know the extent of burns he suffered. We know the horrible painful recovery process. It didn’t have to be so visual. “Oh vacuum the lungs.. that sounds unpleasant.. why are they showing it, stop showing it! Now they’re showing his skin peel off with the bandages oh god” What the hell Ron Howard? We know it was a bad injury, there are ways to convey that other than grotesque imagery. That really killed the film for me at that point. Someone should have told you to shoot that a different way or cut it.

It’s worth seeing if you’re a racing fan, especially if you are a F1 fan. It’s a descent film, but just be forewarned that it has scenes that will have you squirming in your seat. I think it was a poor choice to go that route, especially since movie goers generally are pretty full of popcorn and beverage by that point and not everyone has a strong stomach. I’m one of those weaker stomached people so that’s what knocked the otherwise good film down a grade in my eyes.

 

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