4 stars
In the 1970’s, two of the hottest names on the Formula One race circuit were Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Lauda was an aesthetically challenged, straight-laced, results-driven and virtually humourless Austrian who knew how to work the limits of his skill-set to great advantage. “If I was smarter, I would do something else for a living. I’m not, so here we are”. Hunt was Lauda’s complete opposite, a good-looking, vivacious, spirited and carefree English playboy who was in it for the thrills, the girls and the trophies. “The risk of death turns people on!” Opposites maybe, but they shared one thing in common: the determination to win and by 1976, their ongoing rivalry had left room for nothing else.

Director Ron Howard (Apollo 13), working from a script by Peter Morgan (The Queen), has created a white knuckle ride of extraordinary power and excitement. Even the non-believers for whom racing is poor, noisy, substitute for just about any other kind of activity, Rush is exactly what it says in the title: a visceral, adrenalin soaked ride of agony and ecstasy. What makes it so watchable is Morgan’s ability to tap into the mechanics of male emotion and translate that into a gripping, emotional power-play. Add Howard’s masterful command of the material, plus the exceptional lensing by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire), and Rush becomes a sensational story of sensory overload.

More than just fast men and faster cars, Rush is the captivating exploration of what made these two tick, and what made them bond despite their considerable differences. The film argues that each were one half of a powerful unit, each striving to wrestle from under the other’s shadow. In one devastating scene, the tussle nearly killed Lauda who, 42 days and one skin graft later, was back behind the wheel. Be warned that Howard’s unapologetic scenes of Lauda’s torment and treatment is in agonising close up. No detail is spared, much to the horror of one audience member who passed out during the screening.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is revelatory as the laddish Hunt but it is Daniel Brühl (Inglorious Basterds) who steals the movie with a performance that grips the screen harder than he does the steering wheel. Brühl invests Lauda’s precise, mechanical personality with occasional flashes of humanity that would come to save his life and in doing so, captures this dichotomy in sly, haunting tones. Rush is so much more than the sum of its parts. Racing far ahead of the likes of Fast & Furious and its ilk, here is a heart-pounding action film buttressed with toe-curling drama in a testosterone charged ode to vigorous rivalry and male bonding.


Previewed at Events Cineams, George St, Sydney, 23 September 2013



Chris Hemsworth
Daniel Brühl
Olivia Wilde
Natalie Dormer

Ron Howard

Peter Morgan



123 minutes

October 3, 2013
Rush (2013) on IMDb
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