Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Peter Morgan (screenplay)
Stars: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
Synopsis: A re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
Ron Howard is amazing. His camera work here is absolutely incredible. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the cinematography and the sound editing are nominated for Oscars. The engines roaring alongside Hans Zimmer’s score really gets you into the mood. The backdrop is gritty with lots of dark and grey colors giving it a tough 1970’s aesthetic. Howard places is camera so specifically and we get so many different angles that are gripping. Camera work inside the cars giving you the intense look of driving an F1 car as well as camera’s on the grass looking up as they fly by. Howard’s use of slow motion is also perfect and helps build the intensity of the rivalry he is exploring here. The racing is intense and the dangers are shown in some dramatic ways as the suspense keeps building up. The biggest problem is that Formula 1 isn’t the biggest of sports here in the U.S. If people can get past that and go see this, they won’t regret it.
The story follows two F1 drivers in the mid 1970’s that don’t always get a long but have a mutual respect for one another. It centers around British driver, James Hunt and the Austrian Niki Lauda. Peter Morgan’s scropt is brilliant and Howard brings it to life in some really great ways. In essence, both characters are the protagonist and the antagonist of the story. The film explores Hunt and his immature ways but at the same time makes him very likable. Then the story switches to Lauda and his quest to live his own life outside the big family business, yet again making him likable. However, at the same time each take their own turn in being the “bad guy” and showing you qualities that make this person flawed and unlikable in some ways. But then the movie brings it back around showing you why these characters are good characters to root for and the mutual respect they have for one another. It’s the competition that drives them in this story. What makes it so great though, is that the audience really gets to choose who they want to root for. They build up and tear down each character so flawlessly. The use of narration at the beginning and at the end was a perfect choice as well. The ending becomes a bit sentimental and hits the buttons that you’d expect from Howard and company.
Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth are amazing. This is perhaps Hemsworth’s best as he portray’s James Hunt in some incredible ways. He’s the dangerous driver that has Tony Stark mentalities in terms of partying, women and being extremely likable. Yet Hemsworth shows some depth and some emotion here as well which this character calls for in some ways. Brühl, who you may know from Inglorious Basterds, almost steals the show. He’s the Austrian car genius who becomes famous for knowing how to make the cars lighter and faster, thus making him part of the Ferrari team. One can argue he’s the bigger lead here as he narrates a good chunk of the story and brings in some great perspectives. Brühl’s performance is spot on though and brings life to this character even when Lauda is more deadpanned. Olivia Wilde is good here although her character is a small role. This is about Brühl and Hemsworth and they carry the movie extremely well.
Freakin Hans Zimmer. The dude is on fire lately. A lot of people like to criticize Zimmer for having score’s that are similar or nothing new but they work. His score for Man of Steel added a lot to that film and his score for The Lone Ranger was about the only good part of that movie. And his score for Rush was really great, again. It added a lot of intensity to the racing moments and has become something he’s perfected. The score here is more laid back and in the backdrop though many moments but when the action ramped up, so did his score as well as your emotion.
Rush was an unexpected pleasant surprise. Given the sports stature of F1 in the U.S., I didn’t have much expectations but Ron Howard usually delivers and he does once again. The cinematography is gorgeous and makes it visually very exciting. The performances are stand outs which makes the story feel so alive in many places.