Friday, September 27, 2013

Rush Movie Review

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl (r) in Rush

The Rush of Formula 1

Ali needed Frazier. Bird needed Magic; and Niki Lauda needed a brash, daredevil Brit named James Hunt to fan the flames of Formula 1's most storied (albeit short-lived) rivalry. Ron Howard's superb sports biopic Rush explores a battle of polar opposites with playful banter, stellar racing sequences and the undeniable influence of competition.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Two-time Academy Award winner Ron Howard teams once again with fellow two-time Academy Award nominee, writer Peter Morgan, on Rush, a spectacular big-screen re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The epic action-drama stars Chris Hemsworth as the charismatic Englishman Hunt and Daniel Brühl as the disciplined Austrian perfectionist Lauda, whose clashes on the Grand Prix racetrack epitomized the contrast between these two extraordinary characters, a distinction reflected in their private lives. Taking us into their personal lives on and off the track, Rush follows the two drivers as they push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there is no shortcut to victory and no margin for error. If you make one mistake, you die. Also starring Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara, Rush is produced by Andrew Eaton, Howard, Academy Award winner Brian Grazer, Eric Fellner, Morgan and Brian Oliver and executive produced by Cross Creek Pictures, Exclusive Media, Todd Hallowell and Tim Bevan. Universal Pictures will distribute the film in North America. Rush was shot on location in the U.K., Germany and Austria.

What’s Best: It helps if you like Formula 1: I'm amazed at how many Americans have never even heard of it, settling for NASCAR and all it's ruff-and-tumble trappings. But even if this is your first rodeo Grand Prix race, Howard creates a light-hearted backdrop that appeals to almost any audience. Hemsworth and Brühl are perfect choices to play the polar opposites. Hemsworth tosses around Thor-like confidence; while Brühl wrestles equally with perfection and insecurity. That the former even has time for racing is a shock, given his appetite for beautiful women, partying and... beautiful women. 'I have a theory why women like racecar drivers. It's our closeness to death.'

Six years in the making, the pair's rivalry reaches its pinnacle in the year of 1976; as Hunt's move to McLaren "evens the field" with Niki's Ferrari. 'That wind you feel, is me breathing down your neck,' Hunt warns his Austrian rival (and defending champion.) It's a war of styles, pitting Lauda's by-the-book efficiency with Hunt's unpredictable, fly by the seat of his pants approach. Both actors ace their tests, oozing calm and charm with wonderful results. It's easy to appreciate (and even hate) both characters to some degree: Both are engaging in their own way.

Hemsworth is a hoot as the more playful of the two, pairing up with beautiful Olivia Wilde before earning "the biggest win of my career," a divorce that doesn't cost him a penny. Not to be outdone, Lauda finds love too, winning his beauty (Alexandra Maria Lara) over with, 'If I'm going to do this with anyone, it may as well be you.' This after Hunt's equally romantic proposal, '(Marriage) sounds fucking awful. You don't fancy getting married, do you?' Talk about two Casanovas.

What’s Not: Howard breezes by a few too many races for my liking, managing a balance between action and story. Not that I have a problem with this; but the race recreations are so good, I couldn't help but want more.

Best Line: There's no denying the unabashed tension between Hunt and Lauda, especially when Hunt hurls a "rules are rules, rats are rats" insult Lauda's way; but I prefer to focus on Niki's amazing comeback from a gruesome crash. Close to death, a priest is called to Lauda's side; to which Niki responds, 'Tell the priest to fuck off. I'm still alive.'

Overall: I'm a sports nut, so Rush is right up my alley. Coupled with two of my favorite actors (Brühl, Hemsworth) one of our best directors (Howard) and my celebrity crush (Wilde) the odds that I wouldn't like this film were slim to none. That said, I didn't bank on such a riveting battle of wills, fought across a battlefield of super cool cars in exotic locales like São Paulo, Johannesburg and Madrid. Rush is a nice blend of action, competition and humor; and worth the pole position at your local theater this weekend.