Both exciting and thoroughly engrossing, Rush puts to bed the idea that Formula 1 was always boring. It captures the atmosphere of the sport in the 70’s, when the drivers were personalities who preferred partying to pleasing the sponsors, and willingly embraced risks far beyond those in today’s sanetised competition.
The premise for Rush is essentially very simple: it charts the real life rivalry between James Hunt (a convincing Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) from their early days in Formula 3 to the climax of the 1976 season. Hunt appears on the surface as a typical playboy: attractive, daring and immensely popular with the ladies. This façade hides a complex character who is nervous to the extent that he vomits before every race, justifying the risks with a desire to feel more alive. In contrast, Lauda is a stereotypical Austrian, a man who thrives on percentages, spending his evenings at home or working in the garage rather than partying. Hunt takes greater risks, Lauda is consistent. It is this contrast between the two that drives the film, as we watch their personal lives unfold along with the drama on the track. My only criticism is that Brühl rather over does Lauda’s serious, risk averse nature.
Along with the character based rivalry between the main characters, the film has stacks of visual appeal. This is motor racing with all the mundane bits removed. Races are depicted with archive footage snappily edited with shots of the supporting cast in the pits, as you watch all the overtakes, spins and crashes. If only actual F1 was this good to watch, rather than endless laps of drivers ‘saving their tyres’. Here the cliché ‘I was on the edge of my seat’ holds true. The tension of the fight for the championship is all the better for unfolding over 2 hours rather than an entire season, particularly if you don’t know what the actual outcome was in advance.
The acid test for a sports themed film is whether it has appeal beyond that of the enthusiasts. Here Rush succeeds where many others have failed – I would defy almost anyone who doesn’t have an active dislike of motor racing not to enjoy this film. Quite simply, it’s excellent.
Rush is out in UK Cinemas on September 13th, 2013 – Book your Cinema seat now.