Rush is about rivalry, testosterone driven rivalry of two Formula One driving champions -James Hunt and Niki Lauda. It will heat up your ray-bans as you watch Chris Hemsworth portray James Hunt and Daniel Bruhl star as Niki Lauda. Rush is the true story of the 1976 championship race between these two dynamic dare-devils. Hemsworth has Hunt’s swagger and playboy charm down pat. I only missed the willing-to-die -for gaze in his eyes that Hunt had in his last photo in the film. Hemsworth acting was good, but the look in his eye of do or die that Hunt had is missing. Hunt wore that risk taking expression that embodied his core while Hemsworth has a glint in his eyes at all times, but not the deeply combative spirit that Hunt possessed. Sue Miller (Olivia Wilde) has a thankless role as Hunt’s (Hemsworth’s) wife for one year.
On the other hand, Daniel Bruhl has Niki Lauda’s Austrian sensibilities down pat. Lauda’s knowledge of mechanics and precision, his intellect, made him a threat to Hunt. Bruhl’s performance is magnificent. He shows the perfect teutonic desire to win uber alles. The Austrian flair portrayed by his wife, Alexandra Maria Lara, adds to this film’s sense of accuracy and realism. Rarely do movies take us into an Austrian sensibility save for Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Bruhl’s acting takes us there as does the script by Peter Morgan. I enjoyed the journey into the competitive Austrian mind almost as much as the racing scenes shot with perfection. Ron Howard directed this cinematic Grand Prix for the senses.
Howard’s use of sex scenes is stellar. He cuts all foreplay and breaks into the heat of the scene which adds to the tension of the film and portrays a race car driver’s sensibility. But after a splendid sex scene, a quick edit to a shot of values slamming up and down loudly did not work, His sex scenes did not need a visual exclamation point. They were pay dirt. Howard should trust himself more.
The story is about Lauda (Bruhl) being an intellectual driver and Hunt (Hemsworth) being a dare devil kind of driver. The champion of their rivalry is documented. Lauda (Bruhl) has accepted the Formula One racing is a death trap due to driving on wet tracks. Alas, he has an almost fatal crash while trapped in his car as it burns. The actual footage of this historic crash is not used.
During Lauda’s (Bruhl’s) recuperation, on the hospital television he watches Hunt (Hemsworth) in race after race win back a lead that Lauda (Bruhl) had. Lauda (Bruhl) uses his rage, desire to win at all costs and envy of Hunt (Hemsworth) to heal and to race him once more. But in Japan rain threatens the drivers, but not Hunt (Hemsworth) who wins by one point and becomes the Champion for that year–1976.
One of the themes of Rush is that anger, envy and jealousy– if channeled properly– can be positive emotions. They helped Laud (Bruhl) to heal which some may feel is more important than winning.