Rush, from director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan, is a beautifully visceral and haunting experience that presents its central conflicting and contrasting duos as complex yet triumphant heroes. And it does so through a voyeuristic and powerful lens.
Rush documents the fierce rivalry/friendship shared by Formula 1 drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) in the 1970s. It tracks there competitiveness from Formula 3 into the World Championships and never lets go of the throttle.
Story – A
It is true that adapting a true story adds an inherent and natural notion of drama and tension to the feature, but the depth and heart screenwriter Peter Morgan brings to Rush is stunning. Morgan crafted this film, every word of it, with an older reminiscent Niki Lauda by his side. What results is not only a tempered and harsh look at the perils of Formula 1 but an intense look at the rivalry and philosophy behind the sport.
There are moments of real anger, love, confusion and worry in Morgan’s screenplay and with the help of an Oscar worthy performance by Daniel Bruhl and a distinct tone crafted by Ron Howard, it is strikingly clear and truthful to conclude: Rush was snubbed at the 2014 Academy Awards.
Direction – B+
Very early on, it is apparent that Ron Howard chose a specific and very deliberate style for Rush. Whilst some may lament the direction as being akin to that of an Instagram filter, Howard’s decision to present the film as a grainy and retro tale worked for the better. What resulted was a film that played more like a documentary that leered into intimate and powerful moments from the lives of Lauda and Hunt rather than a glorified lifetime story that dispensed with cruel realities.
When it comes to the races, the tension and the worry is palpable. The fear and possibility of crashing and death is rife and present in the background of Rush. It seeps through every scene and just as Rush celebrates triumph and victory is does not shy away from presenting the turbulent lives of Formula 1 drivers. When it comes down to the final lap, Rush really is a nail-biter.
Acting – A
Daniel Bruhl, a name not known to many, steals the show from just about everyone as Niki Lauda. For those who have seen the real Niki Lauda talk and posture, Bruhl is a chameleon. He transforms into the unfortunately rat-toothed Austrian and in moments of despair and pain, Bruhl brings something special to the role.
Everyone else in the feature stands firm and behind Bruhl and Hemsworth, who isn’t exactly pushed to his talented limits in the role of Thor, produces his best performance ever. He manages to play the cocky, long-haired and open-chested James Hunt with glee and bravado but when the script calls on him to dial back and open that chest beyond its surface level, Hemsworth is fantastic as well.
The fact that Rush was overlooked at the 2014 Academy Awards, particularly regarding Daniel Bruhl, is a disaster. This film knows that what Bruhl produced was something special. And by reading this you know that this film is something special. I’ve used the word special enough to suggest that it is something more than the usual underdog sport story.
Score – A-