Rush follows the tense rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and the Austrian Nikki Lauda from the beginning of their careers and over the course of one formidable race season in 1976 that saw Lauda involved in a near-fatal crash. From the outset, the pair are pitched as polar opposites, the impulsive Hunt and the analytical Lauda; heart and head. The positioning may seem over-simplistic, but it works - for the most part - with the two men coming to an understanding and even growing to respect each other.
While Chris Hemworth's British accent swerves unevenly, he has just the right amount of swagger as the cocky, middle-class Hunt. Daniel Bruhl is almost comically stern as the no-nonsense Lauda. Both men are shown to have more in common than either cared to admit at the time; both are sons of privilege whose position buys them access to a unique world. And both share an eye for attractive women and a love of the limelight. But while Hunt walks away from the circuit after winning the much coveted World Championship, it is Lauda who continues, winning the trophy a total of three times.
The Seventies fashion and music are fun as is spotting which British comedy stalwart will pop up next - Stephen Mangan of Green Wing fame and Lee Asquith-Coe make an appearance. And this has been billed as a British film even though the key roles belong to others. Hemworth is, of course, Australian, Bruhl is German and Olivia Wilde, who plays Hunt's first wife Suzy, is American.
This is the most watchable "British" film I've come across in some time. Director Ron Howard proves a reliable pair of hands, if not a particularly inventive one. )A friend said the movie distinctly reminded him of Senna, the 2010 film about the Brazilian Formula One driver.) The race sequences are tauntly filmed, with the right amount of drama and implied danger; we know that these men race death every time they get behind the wheel and indeed this very point is made again and again. Peter Morgan's script ticks all the boxes but shows us nothing we haven't seen before - down to the CSI shots of a race car engine in operation.
However, in the end this is a film that neither soars nor moves. It needed more of Hunt's panache and brashness, than Lauda's sensible approach. With a more imaginative and freer hand at the wheel, this could have been a much better film and a contemporary classic.