Rush (15) **** out of ****
After the success of Senna and TT3D, racing films are back in fashion,
but while Senna was a cleverly edited documentary, Rush is a full on movie, based on a contentious and near tragic season
in Formula 1 history. But more than a racing film, it's a story of human courage, fierce rivalry and friendship. Those who
love racing will enjoy the high speed spectacle, but the film works equally well as a compelling drama. Perhaps I'm a bit
biased as a racing fan with a particular interest in the season in question and drivers, but Rush is a brilliant film.
The film is based on the 1976 Formula One season which saw
Englishman James Hunt take on Austria's Niki Lauda for the world championship. A hugely controversial season which saw amazing
up and downward turns in fortune for both men, the film takes some liberties to pack everything in to two hours of screen
time, but it succeeds, thanks to Ron Howard's surehanded direction, smart writing and great performances by Daniel Bruhl (Lauda)
and Chris Hemsworth (Hunt).
Hunt as played by Hemsworth is the ultimate playboy. He oozes charisma and cool in an almost 007 manner, and is just
as much a babe magnet as the world's most famous secret agent. Doing some reading on the man himself, this seems pretty close
to what he was really like. Lauda meanwhile is an introverted workaholic with no time for anything or anyone who isn't connected
with his desire to win the world title, who has his world suddenly turned upside down not only by the accident but by meeting
a woman who steals his heart.
Of the two,
Bruhl is the better actor which is fortunate as Lauda was a prickly character who if played by most other actors would come
off as immensely unlikable. Bruhl manages to make us care, especially in the scenes after Lauda's near fatal accident in Germany,
to the point where we're rooting for him to come back from such a horrible accident. Hemsworth by contrast has the easy charm
and cheekiness to carry Hunt off, even if a couple of scenes don't quite feel right, especially when you read books on the
man in question. If Hemsworth has the cool and the humour then Bruhl has the heart. The movie does take some liberties, but
that comes with trying to fit everything into less than two hours of screen time. Some things such as Hunt being disqualified
from the British Grand Prix and the fuel fiasco at Monza are not in the movie, and there's a distinct unpleasantness between
Hunt and Lauda which was added to spice things up. Such animosity was never present in reality as the two were close friends.
The racing scenes are superb, with lots of in car footage
and close wheel to wheel action, which were done with real period racing cars and on the same circuits that the original races
took place on. Howard's attention to detail has always been top notch but he exceeds himself here. The crash scenes are pretty
intense and fortunately there is very little CGI work. Hans Zimmer follows up his superb score for Inception with a similar
soundtrack for this which works very well. If only they had used Fleetwood Mac's The Chain over the end credits however...
If Senna is the best racing documentary, then Rush is the
best F1 movie. Yes, it sticks to a formula (no pun intended), but if the formula works then who cares? It works perfectly.
It's easily better than Grand Prix (not to mention shorter and less artsy), but more than that, it's a great film in just
about every way. The best film of 2013 so far? Definitely.