Rush (2013)

Rush

Directed by Ron Howard (2013, U.S.)

“I always go extreme ways.”

– Nikki Lauda

What makes someone want to drive a dangerous vehicle at 200 miles per hour?  I suppose it’s the same thing that makes us leave the house to drive our regular cars to work, only taken to the tenth power.  As long as there have been cars there has been car racing, and there seem to be two personalities especially attracted to racing as sport – the wild adrenaline addict and the neurotic perfectionist.  Enter James Hunt and Nikki Lauda.

Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) was notorious for living as hard as he raced.  Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) is known, even today, as a blunt, meticulous, and kind of a jerk.  In the mid-1970’s they were arch rivals on the race track, and indeed, two of the fiercest rivals in all of sports.  Their rivalry on the track reached its apex in 1976 when Hunt and Lauda were ranked first and second most of the season, fighting for the Formula 1 championship.

Formula 1 in the 1970’s wasn’t for the faint of heart.  It wasn’t for the faint of anything actually, as a couple of drivers would perish every year on the track.  We tend to put the inherent dangers of auto racing out of our minds with today’s safety advances (there hasn’t been a fatality in Formula 1 since 1994), but in the 1970’s death could be lurking behind every curve.

One of our protagonists draws the short of end of this bargain, as his near-fatal crash serves as the centerpiece of the film.  The only available footage of the real crash is quite grainy, but the film’s version of it is intense and horrific and the rehabilitation just the same.  Forget what would make someone want to race, Howard’s film seems to suggest, what kind of person would want to come back after something like that?

While asking these types of questions, Howard’s film draws the audience into this world through well placed foreshadowing and fantastic camera work.  Rush is no doubt a character study of its two protagonists, but it is also an intense action-sports film that doesn’t let off the gas for very long, not even at the very end.

You might like Rush if: You are intrigued by character studies, sports rivalries, and the motivation behind race car drivers.

You might not like Rush if: The relentless nature of the film sounds kind of exhausting to you.

(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe

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