Rush to see Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl in "Rush"
Director Ron Howard’s “Rush” is a movie without a plot. There is no story to follow. Instead, it's a character study. “Rush” is about the rivalry between two of the best Formula One racers of their day. The film is like a sporting event that we follow to find the victor but also go behind the scenes so a bond is formed with the contestants. Both racers, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), were outstanding drivers but at polar ends to their approaches at driving and life. Mr. Howard has made a fascinating film about two interesting characters who disliked each other but owed their success to one another.
Hunt and Lauda first notice each other in a Formula Three race, a lower division of Formula One. Their differences become apparent immediately when Hunt cuts through the pant forcing Lauda to spin out. Hunt wins the race. Lauda is not amused. A rivalry is born. Lauda is consumed with meticulous details concerning the track and car. He prepares himself both mentally and physically, priding himself on racing within the rules. Hunt relies solely on his skill. His life off the track is consumed with hard and fun living. But on the track, if the car is up to it, he has the talent to bring it to victory.
“Rush’s” focus is on the 1976 Formula One racing season. The film has a lot of jargon concerning Formula One racing but that shouldn’t put off non-aficionados. Mr. Howard and his editors, Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill, do a nice job of keeping our minds off the technical aspects and our emotions on the racing excitement. The shots of the two drivers racing are exhilarating. Mr. Howard has found a way to film race scenes that keep an audience engaged. It helps, however, to know the two drivers.
The casting of both Mr. Hemsworth and Mr. Bruhl is spot on. Mr. Hemsworth is known more for the Marvel comic book hero Thor but he's a lot of fun as a delinquent mortal. He is amusing, publicizing his chiseled physique while over inundating himself with the goodies at his disposal. Mr. Bruhl has the tougher job. He comes across as the stern Austrian without a sense of humor. Lauda is focused on winning and only winning and Mr. Bruhl's sternness conveys it. But Mr. Bruhl also gives hints of loneliness and sensitivity. That appeal makes his romance with his future wife, Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara) so interesting. That shy playfulness is missing from Hunt’s courtship of his wife, Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde). Their relationship consists of attraction with carnal lust that leads to nuptials. But the romancing is just another way to show their differences. What brings this film to another level is the relationship between the two men. The rapport between these two actors make the conflicts between them wonderful to watch.
“Rush” is Mr. Howard’s best directorial effort. He has discarded anything concerning the men’s relationships that might make the movie drag. He has succeeded in the difficult task of showing the admiration these two men had for each other without making it a sentimental soap opera. Technically, Mr. Howard and his cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle (“127 Hours,” “Slumdog Millionaire”), give the film an off-color look that intensifies the desperation each driver develops to beat the other. We get a sense of the exhaust noise, the gravel on the track and the elements that might make or break a race. And Mr. Howard does what all directors should do when actors are at the height of their game and that is to show them together, working off of each other, getting to tell the audience who their characters are while moving the story- race- forward.