Film review: Rush

posted at 6:31 pm on September 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt captured the attention of the Formula 1 racing world in 1976, but it started years earlier — and was more than just a clash of personalities.  The rivalry drove both men to excel and perhaps take too many chances, and to reflect each other’s weaknesses in their strengths.  Only in disaster did both appreciate the other, but what price greatness? And what does greatness mean?

At first, Rush seems to be the story of legendary driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl, Inglorious Basterds), who returned from a near-fatal crash and horrible burns just 42 days later to continue racing in 1976.  Instead, it turns out to be more the story of his nemesis and eventual comrade, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, Thor, Cabin in the Woods), whose racing career would end less than three seasons later but who later had a second career as a BBC commentator.

Ron Howard, who is used to telling stories of daring young men and their magnificent machines in films like Apollo 13, gives us plenty of action but more of a focus on the contrasts between the two competitors at the peak of their rivalry.   Lauda and Hunt approach life and racing in very different ways, but the film tends to focus much more on Hunt’s lifestyle. In the beginning, Hunt’s wild living looks more like joie de vivre, but as he struggles in his personal life, it begins to look more like dissolution and despair.  Lauda’s personal life gets a little less attention, perhaps because Lauda has more discipline.

** Small spoilers **

While Rush ends up delivering a harsher judgment on Hunt, it at least challenges both men’s approach to life, as Lauda seems to reject happiness as a curse while Hunt seems focused on nothing else. In a scene near the end, Hunt tries to get Lauda to embrace the fun of racing by exclaiming, “We’re like knights!They certainly jousted through their parallel careers, but it’s the discipline of Lauda that allows him not only to return just six weeks after nearly dying in the crash, but also to win two more world championships — his final crown coming five years after Hunt last competed in a race.  Still, the two brought out the best and sometimes the worst in each other, and both men realize it by the end of the film.

Rush is a well-paced, well-acted film that avoids some cliches and overcomes a few others to give audiences a thought-provoking as well as pulse-provoking film.  Howard uses plenty of visual tricks in the action sequences to give us a sense of the adrenalin rush, as well as the confusion and danger, but plays the rest of the sequences more straightforwardly, rather than use Shaky Cam throughout the film. Brühl and Hemsworth carry the fim, with Alexandra Maria Lara (Youth Without Youth) providing more emotional resonance to Lauda’s personal life, at times more than Lauda wants to experience.

Rush may not win major awards, but it’s an excellent film, and surprisingly poignant and even wistful. On the 5-point Hot Air scale, Rush gets a 5:

  • 5 – Full price ticket
  • 4 – Matinee only
  • 3 – Wait for Blu-Ray/DVD/PPV rental or purchase
  • 2 – Watch it when it hits Netflix/cable
  • 1 – Avoid at all costs

One note: I saw the film in a D-Box seat, which provides motion that is synchronized with the action sequences in the film.  It’s the first time I’ve tried it, and it does help immerse you in the action, a bit like virtual roller coaster rides.  I don’t know that it was worth the extra cost, but it was fun to try it once.

Rush is rated R for nudity and sexual content (a few brief sequences), language, brief drug use, and “some disturbing images.” The injury and hospital scenes with Lauda are gruesome, although relatively brief.  They are necessary for telling Lauda’s story, but Howard doesn’t dwell on them long.

 


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Of course, Ron Howard is a Obama-loving left wing nutcase.

But, hey, don’t let that stop you from giving money to him so he can defeat conservative candidates.

We are so dumb.

faraway on September 29, 2013 at 7:06 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idhwUaXpuzg

WhatSlushfund on September 29, 2013 at 7:08 PM

FWIW- Medved loved this too.

CW on September 29, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Seriously Ed, are you going to jump to Variety? Don’t you know Hollywood doesn’t like guys from Minnesota (that’s why they sent Franken home).

platypus on September 29, 2013 at 7:20 PM

I really liked Daniel Brühl in “Good-Bye Lenin”. (That movie was so popular in Germany that it was still playing in theatres there a year after its release.) I knew that after that, it seemed like he was trying to break into the larger market by doing films in English, but I really don’t think “Ladies in Lavender” did him any favors (though I haven’t seen the movie myself).

Thank you for the review! I will certainly try to see the film, though seeing it first run is kind of difficult for me at the time being. (*L* I don’t know if it’s the kind of movie where I’d be reliving the crush I had on DB back when Good-Bye Lenin came out, but I’m sure my husband will keep me from getting to carried away with it, should it come to that!)

Katja on September 29, 2013 at 7:23 PM

platypus on September 29, 2013 at 7:20 PM

Inane.

CW on September 29, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Of course, Ron Howard is a Obama-loving left wing nutcase.

faraway on September 29, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Ron Howard is an Obama-loving liberal but as far as Hollywood goes he his hardly a left-wing nutcase.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Ron Howard is an Obama-loving liberal but as far as Hollywood goes he his hardly a left-wing nutcase.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Yea, Ron Howard is a left-wing nutcase. Obama was elected twice and Obamacare is law because of direct actions of Ron Howard, Andy Griffith, and Oprah.

Andrew Breitbart, RIP, understood that politics is downstream of culture. The GOP establishment will only give you theatrics about opposing the left-wing agenda, but when it comes to actions they support socialized medicine, amnesty, and big government.

sauldalinsky on September 29, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Andrew Breitbart, RIP, understood that politics is downstream of culture. The GOP establishment will only give you theatrics about opposing the left-wing agenda, but when it comes to actions they support socialized medicine, amnesty, and big government.

sauldalinsky on September 29, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Yeah, well until you can get one of those fat-assed Kardashian whores or Honey Boo Boo to join the local Tea Party group, then Hollywood is what it is.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2013 at 8:01 PM

…Hollywierd!

KOOLAID2 on September 29, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Yeah, a movie… Um, so, anybody heard about this?

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atlasshrugged/atlas-shrugged-movie-who-is-john-galt

Fallon on September 29, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Yeah, well until you can get one of those fat-assed Kardashian whores or Honey Boo Boo to join the local Tea Party group, then Hollywood is what it is.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Interestingly, I just saw the first two episodes of “Sleepy Hollow”. The main character, Ichabod Crane, is pretty much a Tea Partier — he has a line line about the colonists revolting over a sales tax much lower than the current ones.
“Agents of Shield”, on the other hand, is basically written by Occupy Wall Street.

Count to 10 on September 29, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Didn’t Sylvester Stallone have a movie kinda like this a couple years ago (Drive)? And Tom Cruise had one, but it was based in the stock car realm (Days of Thunder). And then of course there are the classics, James Garner in Grand Prix, and Steve McQueen in Le Mans. And somehow, I think you’ll get better acting (and better, you know, stories) in those last two.

All of these are available on DVD. So, why should I see this one again?

Mitoch55 on September 29, 2013 at 9:03 PM

FWIW- Medved loved this too.

CW on September 29, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Another reason not to go.

rrpjr on September 29, 2013 at 9:18 PM

“Agents of Shield”, on the other hand, is basically written by Occupy Wall Street.

Count to 10 on September 29, 2013 at 8:29 PM

How so? I didn’t see it.

rrpjr on September 29, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Yeah, well until you can get one of those fat-assed Kardashian whores or Honey Boo Boo to join the local Tea Party group, then Hollywood is what it is.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Just don’t pay for it. If ya know what I mean. ;)

Spread the wealth, folks. Everything’s out there. Just look for it.

But you didn’t hear it here.

kim roy on September 29, 2013 at 9:43 PM

I just saw it tonight. Very good movie, especially if you’re a formula 1 fan or know anything about it and it’s history.

However, the story of Ayrton Senna, with the Alain Proust rivalry, drama, and eventual death would have been more emotionally powerful, IMO.

Two great characters in formula 1, no doubt, and a great story.

But Senna still stands above them all.

Genuine on September 29, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Do yourself a favor folks. Don’t feed the Hollywood money pipeline. Get Netflix or Amazon Prime and watch the movies as they used to be made. Watching Nevada Smith right now. Steve McQueen and Brian Keith were awesome.

itsspideyman on September 29, 2013 at 9:53 PM

faraway on September 29, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Enjoy your reruns of “Father Knows Best” and your Pat Boone tapes, philistine.

RayinVA on September 29, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Watching Nevada Smith right now. Steve McQueen and Brian Keith were awesome.

itsspideyman on September 29, 2013 at 9:53 PM

I agree.

rrpjr on September 29, 2013 at 10:22 PM

This is a rough room. Ed’s movie reviews are typically not political. Yes, Ron Howard is a Hollywood liberal, but who out there is not?

Some of you need to lighten up. There is more to life than non-stop partisan politics. Some movies are very political and deserve disdain from us, but this one is certainly not. We’ll go see it sometime this week because I’ve been a F-1 fan since I was a kid and it sounds really interesting

simkeith on September 30, 2013 at 12:56 AM

Niki Lauda and James Hunt

Who?

rickv404 on September 30, 2013 at 1:41 AM

Niki Lauda and James Hunt

Who?

rickv404 on September 30, 2013 at 1:41 AM

….And that’s when I realized that I was, officially, old.

V7_Sport on September 30, 2013 at 2:22 AM

What, no Breaking Bad wrap up? Damn…

Dongemaharu on September 30, 2013 at 2:26 AM

But Senna still stands above them all.

Genuine on September 29, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Tazio Nuvolari would be fellow who you are thinking of, and no, I’m not that old.

V7_Sport on September 30, 2013 at 2:28 AM

How so? I didn’t see it.

rrpjr on September 29, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Agents of Shield: Big business is keeping the little guy down and fraudulently taking advantage of him, while the Government is Here to Help.

Count to 10 on September 30, 2013 at 6:32 AM

This is a rough room. Ed’s movie reviews are typically not political. Yes, Ron Howard is a Hollywood liberal, but who out there is not?

Nick Searcy, Adam Baldwin, Earnest Borgnine, Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton etc…. They’re out there. Yes, Hollywood is overwhelmingly liberal – your point is not lost. But folks whom conservatives can support without fear do exist, and in doing so conservatives need not fear the physical representation of their work (i.e., their MONEY) will be used to advance an agenda antithetical to conservatism.

There is more to life than non-stop partisan politics. Some movies are very political and deserve disdain from us, but this one is certainly not.

If you choose to believe there is more to life than partisan politics, that’s your prerogative. Some would say you’re wearing blinders to reality. Some would say that “progressivism” is insidious and is invading every corner of our lives, and that entertainment is a vehicle for the progressive agenda to “attractively” bring its agenda into our homes and lives. Some would say that even if a performance is not overtly political, the progressive inclinations of the performance architects and stars more-or-less guarantee how the profits of such an enterprise will be deployed (at least in part). Some would consider an attitude like the one you express – one that limits an analysis of entertainment to topical issues and ignores the motives of the creators who use their accumulated wealth to actively subvert the notions of freedom upon which this country was founded – to belie a short-sighted, fair-weather conservatism that lacks intestinal fortitude.

I don’t want to fight. The tone of my comment merely deflects the sanctimony of yours. If you want to elicit a more convivial tone from your readers, you may wish to try another tact.

With that said, I hope you enjoy the movie.

Jazz on September 30, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Yes, evil mastermind Ron Howard is out to destroy American with his fat Hollywood money. I bet he drives an electric car too!

tlynch001 on September 30, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Ron Howard? It simply can’t be good.

echosyst on September 30, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Danny Ongais make an appearance in this film?

forest on September 30, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Thanks for the review, Ed. Lauda’s crash was quite horrific. It’s commendable that other drivers stopped to help. Not too sure if that would happen today.

F-1 is an extreme sport that attracts extreme drivers. Lauda vs. Hunt led to Senna vs. Prost, and Schumacher vs. Hakkinen to name a few.

Those were fun races to watch.

rukiddingme on September 30, 2013 at 12:11 PM

If politics is downstream of culture, it is pretty dumb to boycott movies on conservative leaning subject matter. Those of you thinking a movie about classic Formula 1 somehow props up a modern progressive agenda are ridiculous and paranoid.

Resolute on September 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM

You gonna review “Machete Kills,” too? It has Charlie Sheen.

flataffect on September 30, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Didn’t Sylvester Stallone have a movie kinda like this a couple years ago (Drive)? And Tom Cruise had one, but it was based in the stock car realm (Days of Thunder). And then of course there are the classics, James Garner in Grand Prix, and Steve McQueen in Le Mans. And somehow, I think you’ll get better acting (and better, you know, stories) in those last two.

All of these are available on DVD. So, why should I see this one again?

Mitoch55 on September 29, 2013 at 9:03 PM

This is like saying “I saw Apocalypse Now and Midway, why should I go see Saving Private Ryan” Didn’t they already make a couple of war movies that I can see on Netflix for free?

I saw Rush today, and I would say that it is arguably the best racing movie ever made, and I’ve seen nearly all of them. As a serious race fan, the only one in recent memory that compares is the Senna documentary, but that is a whole different kind of film. Even if you aren’t a race fan, this movie has value. It’s a human story about competition, racing is merely the setting not the story.

JC in CA on October 6, 2013 at 10:20 PM