"The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It's a wonderful way to live. It's the only way to drive."
Ron Howard is back on full gear after a couple of setbacks with The Dilemma and Angels and Demons. Rush is one of his best movies and he really does the title justice because you actually feel the rush of Formula 1 driving in this film. This is a great sports biopic that follows a lot of the well known sports cliches, but it works nonetheless thanks to a superb story and some great characters. The difference with the sports formula here is that there is no clear villain as both characters are strong rivals who despite their differences are still likable and sympathetic. They are very different in their approach to racing, but the film doesn't seem to take sides or try to tell us which driver we have to cheer for. Howard's film is intense and exhilarating, one you will enjoy even if you're not a Formula 1 fan. If you have never heard of the real life rivalry during the 70's between drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt then you are in for a thrilling ride here because the story is really gripping and powerful. If you are familiar with the story it is still enjoyable because the racing scenes are gripping with some insane camera angles and some great editing while the two lead performances are strong. This is the second time that Academy Award nominated screenwriter, Peter Morgan, collaborates with Ron Howard after Frost/Nixon, and once again they succeed in delivering a powerful biopic. This isn't Morgan's first screenplay related to sports either as he also wrote the script for The Damned United, one of my favorite sport movies of all time. These two should continue to work together because Rush is exciting and thrilling regardless wether or not you like Formula 1 racing.
Ron Howard takes us back to the 70's to relive the classic rivalry between two successful Formula 1 drivers: James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Hunt is a British playboy who is passionate about driving and will do what it takes to win each race without considering the risks, while Lauda is a meticulous, extremely disciplined and calculating cold blooded Austrian driver. Despite their opposite personalities, they both have one thing in common: winning. Their rivalry began during the early 70's when they were both facing each other in lower divisions, and it escalated when they both reached Formula 1. The climatic moment takes place during the 1976 championship where a series of spectacular events unfold including a near fatal accident by Lauda and a nail biting season finish. The risks were high in this high speed sport where the safety conditions we have today didn't exist then. The film however doesn't just focus on their rivalry on the tracks, it also follows their personal lives off the track giving the characters more depth. We get a glimpse into Hunt's reckless marriage with Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), and Lauda's relationship with Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara). The rivalry between these two men may just be the extra push they need to become better drivers, but it can also lead to taking more risks in a deadly sport.
Rush was a pleasant surprise because it wasn't just another sport movie about two bitter rivals; it actually was a film about two rivals who brought the best out of each other and that is what made this biopic so much more interesting. It's that fierce competition between two talented drivers in a fast paced film that leaves you with a sense of rush and raises your pulse. Howard also does a great job at recreating the 70's and delivering some exciting racing scenes. Hemsworth proves he is more than muscles and Bruhl is just as exciting on screen. I wasn't surprised by Bruhl's performance because he had one small scene in Inglourious Basterds that really blew me away, but I really hadn't discovered this side of Chris Hemsworth who proved he has a career after Thor. Rush is such a dynamic and fun viewing experience, one you won't want to miss. The difference between these two lead characters and the way they play off each other is what ultimately drives this film to succeed. I can't think of any other racing movie that worked better than Rush, and I still haven't mentioned how exciting that final race scene played out in the rain with the slow-motion camera. It was breathtaking, give Rush a chance.