One could be forgiven for approaching Rush sceptically as, on the face of it, it seems like one for the purists. The film details the events that took place in the build up to, and during, the 1976 Formula One World Championship, which was centered on the fierce rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). But, don't let the fact that the film is about Formula One deter you. Ron Howard and Peter Morgan have created a film, which not only satisfies with its breath-taking racing scenes, but also with the depth and complexity of emotional intensity that it reaches.
The premise of Rush is simple. In the world of 1970s racing, two contrasting personalities climb the ranks to ignite one of the bitterest rivalries Formula One has ever seen. Hunt, played by Hemsworth, is the English playboy whose fearless bad-boy nature makes him irresistible to women. Lauda meanwhile is Hunt's pragmatist; a social outcast whose "rat like" features are a constant source of mockery from Hunt, Lauda posses a calm, methodical and assiduous persona, providing an impeccable foil to Hunt's outlandish disposition.
So, it seems that Hunt is out hero and Lauda our villain. No, there's more it than that. It's worth remembering that this film is an independent film, far flung from the Hollywood blockbusters that are commonplace in our cinemas, and is not as black and white as it first may seem. Throughout Rush we come to love and loathe both Lauda and Hunt. The script-writing by Peter Morgan is eloquent and elegant in equal measure; Lauda's dry sense of humour drew a few laughs from the audience and his diligence when it comes to winning races ensures that we come to appreciate him. On the other hand, Hunt's suave playboy image is depicted so well by Hemsworth that it wouldn't be difficult seeing him star as James Bond (indeed he introduces himself as "Hunt, James Hunt" at one point in the film).
The edge of your seat viewing that Rush creates is epitomised perfects by Laudua's opening lines "Twenty five people start Formula One, and each year, two die". Aside from the incredible acting from the two leading men, the racing scenes provide the perfect accompaniment to the off track rivalry. In Rush, Anthony Dod Mantle supposedly incorporated up to 36 cameras for race scenes, some of which were mounted in the cars themselves. What he has been able to produce is the most realistic, exhilarating and dramatic racing scenes I have ever witnessed in a film. The ultra fast cut scenes and close ups of the cars bring the audience closer to the thrill of Formula One racing than any film ever has managed to achieve before.
Praise aside, the film does fall down slightly in one department. Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara are cast as Suzy Hunt and Marlene Lauda, the wives of the two protagonists. Both actresses are largely maligned in the film and there is little to see in respect to their acting capabilities. Perhaps this is to be expected in a film that is so focused on the men whose egocentricity is the driving force behind the plot.
From the outset one can see that Rush has the wit, glamour, sex, humour and spirit to be a huge triumph for Ron Howard. The casting is perfect; Hemsworth and Brühl embody the characters so brilliantly that the focus of the film shifts from racing to the existential meaning at its heart. To those of you who have never seen a Formula One race in your life, I urge you to go out and watch this film. Rush is everything a racing film should be.