“Has to be one of the most aesthetically complete films of the year…”
Rush is sublime aesthetically, and featured editing and sound engineering so pristine you’d swear you were at a Formula One race yourself. These features make it easy to forget how average and rather expected many elements of the story are. Director Ron Howard, known for taking on ambitious projects and fueling them with a twist, does justice to a rivalry that started unintentionally but always had the element of mutual respect, and finds ways to employ the story so that it isn’t redundant and predictable.
The film stars Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda, two Formula One drivers who became rivals early on in their careers and maintained that stigma for their entire lives. The rivalry was birthed in 1970 when they were Formula Three drivers and carried into their more successful years as Formula One drivers, each with separate agendas and outlooks on life. Hunt is much more cocky and believes that he’ll be all right as long as he remains in the driver’s seat and can secure sponsor deals, as well as continue to throw himself at every woman he sees. Lauda, on the other hand, is much more modest and prefers a much smaller persona than Hunt’s boastful one.
Neither of these men are contemptible, though. They possess the equal mindset of winning when it comes time for them to suit up and drive. Writer Peter Morgan (writer of Frost/Nixon and The Queen) assures that time is spent on developing both caricatures so they don’t remain thin archetypes in their own film. It helps deeply that Hunt and Lauda are played by Hemsworth and Brühl, two very capable actors who aren’t afraid to amplify both the strengths and flaws of the men.
On the other hand, Rush has to be one of the most aesthetically complete films of the year. The races are captured through a lens that allows for spatial relationships and detail to be taken into consideration as well as providing the viewer with the dizzying effect that you’re watching a Formula One race. In addition, the roaring of the engines, the shredding of the tire, and the unpredictable crashes are all captured through the purest of sound quality, which was led by over thirty people. The turnout is gorgeous and provides for what is likely to be the most underrated quality of the film. If not the sound, then the slick editing by Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill that equally makes a strong narrative and an intense action film.
The only quibble insight is the film’s treatment of the rivalry not really being a rivalry as a subversive piece of the pie. The film rests on the idea that showing that this rivalry also included elements of respect between the two men, and it uses this as its element that would possess the most intrigue and the obligatory “wow” factor to the production. This just isn’t the case. Even with some of the greatest sports, film, and reality show rivals, I couldn’t help but think at least more than half of them at some sort of mutual respect for one another. And if they didn’t, why even boast the idea of the rivalry if you didn’t think you actually had competition?
Rush is a classic humanization of an eclectic field that isn’t always the first thing to come to people’s minds. The story isn’t what will get the film the accolades and the recognition it deserves. However, the top-notch production and exceptional sound and visual design of Rush prevent it from being compared to anything shown on a primetime movie network.
Review by Steve Pulaski, Lead Film Critic
Visit, and “like” us on Facebook