Rush

This week, we’ll be examining the newly released Rush, directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Daniel Bruhl, Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde. Rated R for language, nudity, some disturbing images and brief drug use.

Rush follows two European race cars drivers, James Hunt (Hemsworth), a brash, handsome womanizer, and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), a witty and intelligent, yet cocky genius, in the midst of their heated race to become the greatest. Throughout the next six years, both of the drivers rise to the top: Formula 1.

Though they are each completely different in terms of style and personality, they become fierce competitors, and by 1976, they are pitted against each other in a battle of wits, bravery, and speed. In ’76, with Lauda dominating Hunt during the early stages of the season, Lauda suffers a tragic accident at the German Grand Prix after crashing his Ferrari in the rain because Hunt had insisted the race go on. Lauda leaves the accident with life-threatening third degree burns to his heads and his lungs, with seemingly no chance to become World Champion. The rivalry had just begun.

8.0 out of 10 

I am a huge sports fan. Basketball, baseball, football; you name it. The one thing that doesn’t draws my interest is NASCAR. So obviously, I wasn’t necessarily excited to watch this film. Nevertheless, it was Ron Howard and looked good, so I decided to see it regardless.

The film certainly has its pros and cons. For starters, the acting was very good. Despite the lack of any huge names besides Thor, I mean Chris Hemsworth, (and Olivia Wilde was in like, a scene and a half) the actors do a very good job, especially the two leads. Daniel Bruhl and Hemsworth were both fantastic as clashing racers. The way they developed themselves and their rivalry was very strong, and the chemistry between the two was phenomenal. The ending, in which Hunt is seen talking with Bruhl after winning the championship, is a perfect display of this connection: How these two racers learned from each other, and were motivated by each other. How they saw each other as friends, even. Without this emotional connection, the film would have fallen apart. On the flip side, the love interests seemed forced and irrelevant. I never believed that any of it was genuine romance. Really, all it did was consume screentime.

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt

I also found the film a bit inconsistent. We saw fives minutes of James Hunt, then thirty minutes of Niki Lauda, so on and so forth. It evened itself out eventually, but this discrepancy in narration still led to an awkward, unsteady pacing. Additionally, I was slightly bored with the first half, excluding the first 10 minutes. Right out of the gate, we saw the beginning of this fantastic rivalry and wanted more. What we actually got was was build up. Build up is never bad, but in this case, it threw off the pace that had been set after their Formula 3 race. However, Rush hit its stride once it entered 1976. The film got much more intense once the race for World Champion started. It generally became more fast paced and exciting, something that I enjoyed.

While Rush had an excellent soundtrack and gritty cinematography that allowed it to become both visually and audibly appealing, what really makes this film is its direction. Ron Howard is a very good director, How the Grinch Stole Christmas put aside. He understands the concept of originality and is able to apply it to true stories such as A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13. The movie was about a real life rivalry, and what’s important to understand is that both of these characters are the protagonists. They were enemies to each other, but to an audience, there is no hero or villain. Howard directs the film in such a way that we find ourselves supporting both of them at one point. The fact that we can’t pick sides contributes to the realism of the rivalry and makes the film fun to watch. It isn’t one sided at all. We can empathize with both of the characters, and that is really what viewers want; to form a connection with a character.

To those of you who don’t like racing, check out this movie. Really, it’s a stretch to consider this movie a racing film. It’s not about the race on the track, it’s about the race of life between two men who appear to hate each other but actually rely on and respect the other. This face paced, exciting film is definitely worth a watch. ~Vig

8.0 out of 10

Ron Howard’s a mixed bag. His producing credits range from Frost/Nixon to Katy Perry: Part of Me. And his production company has about the same of a record as his own. So, naturally, when I heard he was making a film called “Rush” about James Hunt, I was….indifferent. I didn’t really know what exactly to expect from a racing film directed by him.

Ron Howard

Ron Howard

But, you can’t ignore such a diverse portfolio as Ron Howard’s, so (Vignesh and) I decided to dive into this movie. And I can say one thing, I wasn’t disappointed whatsoever…

I’ll get the negative out of the way first, it’s like any other racing film. Competitor wins. Competitor keeps besting our protagonist but suddenly (GASP) our hero rises to the finish and beats his challenger.

But damn, does Rush do it well. The races are so grand and epic you can’t help but get invested it in it. Great soundwork as the cars roared right past the screen. They managed to milk every bit of reality and engagement they could out of every race and it never really lost its touch. If anything, it got progressively better.

Hemsworth and Bruhl, if they can play out one emotion, its want. Its that insatiable thirst to beat ones rival. They may occasionally have to work with okay dialogue but, boy, do they make it work. The most reliable source ever, Wikipedia tells me Niki Lauda really enjoyed this movie even if it may have been a not so flattering portrayal but who can blame him? You could have me be a murderer in my biopic and, if it were played this well, I’d be in the front row for twenty showings straight. Really, hope I can see these guys a lot more.

Sometimes, however, it gets to be too grand for its own good (And I mean that in the best way possible). Seeing your investment in the vents of a film escalate then deteriorate as we move between races and so/so stabs at personalizing the characters more can put a dent in it at times. Nonetheless, Hemsworth and Bruhl really step out of themselves and into their characters to give it their all which makes all the difference with (What can be) problematic pacing).

In that, Rush teaches a valuable lesson. Occasionally, especially in this genre, It’s OK to be “cliche”. You can certainly rectify it so long as you have a great mix of acting, visuals, a wonderful grip on the action, and, the icing on the cake, Hans Zimmer in the background. Seriously, I can’t think of a time when Zimmer has dissatisfied my ears yet.

Call me unprofessional (This is only a blog after all), but I am a huge sucker for a healthy mix of well-made action with some satisfactory emotions behind it. That basically makes me a fan of 90% of sports films from the past 30 years but I stand by it. I’m not particularly giving an A for effort, I’m just saying I totally got what I expected in an unexpected fashion.

Ron Howard, nobody can predict what the next project to be added to your eclectic portfolio will be but if its as good as this, I just might be comfortable with calling myself a “Ron Howard” fan. However, I won’t forgive you for your Katy Perry exploits.

~Zach

IMDB: 8.2
Metacritic: 75
Rotten Tomates: 89%
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