Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Rush

Renowned for films such as Frost/Nixon and A Beautiful Mind, celebrated director Ron Howard takes the driving seat again in this Hollywood adaptation of the true life story of 1970's Formula 1 racing rivals James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl).


Despite a raunchy opening scene, the story itself is slow to get going.  Through a series of vignettes we learn who Hunt and Lauda are and the mechanics of F1 are explained.  Although necessary, this does intrude slightly on the story. These vignettes also give the story a disjointed feel at times, but Howard does a good job of making both characters equal protagonists. Hunt and Lauda are given equal screen time and you don't find yourself rooting for one driver over the other.

Hunt is a charmer, a playboy with an impulsive streak.  He throws up before every race and asks supermodel Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) to marry him on the spot.  Lauda is more straight laced.  He plays by the rules and thinks things through, but is still a worthy rival and calls Hunt an 'asshole' at any given opportunity.  Unlike Hunt, he takes his time building a relationship with his wife and marries in a small private ceremony.


The rivalry is fairly civil and not overly dramaticised.  This is quite refreshing, as Howard could have easily fallen into the Hollywood trap of making the rivalry vicious and overplayed.  Instead, it's obvious that despite their differences the two drivers ultimately respect each other.  It's a love-hate relationship.  However, as with any adaptation of a true story, some aspects have been changed or added so you can't assume that everything you see is true.

Performances are strong from the entire cast with Hemsworth and Wilde both delivering convincing British accents.  Strangely the only accent that was a little off was Bruhl's, which despite being authentic sounded more Dutch than Austrian.  The film is well scripted but even this doesn't make up for the drawn out story that overall, just didn’t grab me all that much. Nor I suspect, the attention of those not into F1, racing history or racing films.


Directorially, there is good use of special effects during the races and the washed out colours give a good 1970's feel to the film.  Once we've got the idea of what's going on, the film does a quick montage of several of the races taking us around the world in just a few minutes.  This helps to finally pick up the pace of the film and even though I was a little disengaged throughout most of it, at the end I was at the edge of my seat waiting to see who was going to win the final race.  The final scenes were definitely the most gripping.  Hans Zimmer's score helps to build the tension here and the rain and the visual effects keep your eyes glued to the screen.

Right at the end there is an actual clip of Niki Lauda speaking about James Hunt who passed away in 1993.  Together with pictures of Hunt and Lauda at the time the film was set, this adds a nice touch and provides an emotionally satisfying resolution.

Slow to start but worth watching mainly for the grand finale.

Rush crosses the finish line with a 3/5[]

Ant Silvers


Rush at CeX



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