Mary Baker ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
Before watching Ron Howard’s new movie Rush, my only brushes with racing have been Ricky Bobby and Mario Kart. I had no clue how the sport of Formula One worked, and to be honest, I didn’t care all too much.
Boy, was I wrong.
Rush, in theaters now, is the pedal to the metal true story of the intense rivalry between the British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and the calculating Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). The 1970s were a time of excess, acceleration, and Rush captures the furious pace perfectly.
In the world of Formula One, winning is the only acceptable result. Two out of every twenty-five finalists died yearly during the height of the sport, as detailed in Rush. Drivers cope with the stress in different ways, and the movie’s foes are fire and ice. Hemsworth’s Hunt is passionate and impulsive, blessed with natural talent but no brakes per se, while Brühl’s Lauda is clever and logical, using money and his technical knowledge to compete. The 1976 season placed the two in a gripping battle to the front of the pack, and the dramatic results play out successfully under the hand of Ron Howard.
Hemsworth plays a spot-on James Hunt, charming the pants off everyone he meets (sometimes literally). The Thor actor brings both crushing lows and exhilarating highs to his character, and as such plays the perfect spring board to Inglorious Bastard’s Brühl’s show-stealing performance as the almost Vulcan Niki Lauda. Every nuance of his character highlights his painful past and his almighty conviction to win at all costs. In the final act of the movie, Brühl delivers a moving turn that will surely bring him attention come awards season.
Similar to racing, anything not directly in the film’s immediate focus whooshes by without a second thought, and unfortunately that means most of the secondary characters (with the exception of Alexandra Marie Lara as Marlene Lauda) are one-dimensional figures blown over by the main storyline. Off the track Howard’s film stumbles, but Lara’s performance rises above the poorly written part as she provides a multifaceted female presence to a film sorely lacking in just that.
The heart-racing visuals jump quickly from a close-up of an eye to a blade of grass on the side of the track to a wide shot of the race, creating a sense of tension only heightened by the incredible sound editing. The viewer is effectively in the “coffin on wheels”, and the fast cuts and intense sound keep the numerous race scenes from becoming repetitive. Rush does not shy away from the grim realities of racing, and some scenes were brutally violent, cementing the film’s R rating.
Fast cars, fun times, and an overwhelming sense of danger make Howard’s newest film a tense race to the finish, and what a Rush it is.