Sunday, September 22, 2013

“Rush” – Movie Review



This weekend, my movie class held yet another bonus screening – “Rush”, a drama based on a true story, starring  Chris (“Thor”) Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl and directed by Ron Howard.


When a rivalry between two Formula 1 race car drivers heats up, who will choose to take the most risks in order to win, even if doing so may ultimately mean losing his life?


In the 1970’s, a heated rivalry developed between two competing Formula 1 race car drivers – Britain’s James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Austria’s Niki Lauda (Brühl).  Although both shared a passion for racing, the two men could not be more polar opposites as far as their personality was concerned:  Hunt was a reckless playboy and partier while Lauda was more disciplined and methodical in his approach to the sport; Hunt was right-brain, Lauda was left-brain; Hunt was all about having fun whereas Lauda was all-business.  And therein lay the key making each other better racers, whether or not either of them was aware of it. 

Lauda was not merely a good driver but also superb at engineering – he knew how much weight and horsepower a car could support while still optimizing its speed.  Hunt, alternatively, relied on luck and charm to succeed in life – both on and off the racetrack – and somehow managed to be a driver whose skills were comparable to Lauda’s.  Seeing his image needed severe improvement, Hunt decided to marry the successful model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) to appear that his life was stabilizing.  But when Suzy realized the marriage was a joke, she left. 

During the 1976 season, things between Hunt and Lauda came to a head when Lauda was leading in points, chased closely by Hunt.  Once, the severe rain caused Lauda to call a meeting with the racing committee to postpone a race due to weather; a vote was taken among the drivers and Hunt was able to convince them to proceed.  When the race commenced, Lauda wound up crashing, suffering severe injuries when his car exploded; after many medical procedures, Lauda’s competitive spirit amazingly willed him to resume racing the next month.  By this time, however, Hunt had almost caught up to him in points.  In Japan, they raced in a similar teeming rain with Hunt needing to finish among the leaders to achieve points to be champion.  Would the two combatants be willing to race to the death to be declared winner or would caution eventually prevail?   


Here in the world’s media center of New York City, there are two sports that are – almost inexplicably – ignored, while the rest of the nation obsesses over them:  one is college football and the other is race car driving (specifically, NASCAR).  While I could theorize on why, it is somewhat irrelevant to this review – although it might be relevant as to why a story about a pair of Formula 1 race car drivers might not resonate quite as deeply among American audiences as the filmmakers might hope.  “Rush” is not a bad film, but this lone qualification might be one of the factors that could prevent it from being a big hit in the United States (while being a hit worldwide). 

I’m a fan of Ron Howard’s work, but one of the problems with the film was his directorial style, as much as it pains me to admit this.  At times, I felt it was a bit too heavy-handed; it would seem that he might have lost faith in his audience’s ability to be intelligent enough to infer certain information, so he felt it necessary to spell it out to all of us instead.  This is a movie; as such, please don’t tell the audience what it needs to know – instead, show the audience what it needs to know.  If you’re good enough at your story telling ability, it will be clear and unambiguous to them. 

After the screening, an interesting discussion ensued among the class.  While most really seemed to enjoy the film and believed it to work quite well, a few had some misgivings – so, although I may have agreed with them, I think that I may have been in the minority, so please keep that in mind when considering to view “Rush”.  Some felt it was miscast (asserting that bigger stars were necessary), others insisted that the story of Formula 1 racers from Europe would be pretty much lost on American viewers.  I believe that ultimately, neither lead character was worth rooting for because both men were jerks – which each one might admit was what they thought about the other.  Ultimately, there lacked any kind of emotional investment on my part because I didn’t really care about the outcome of either racer.  Therein, I suspect, may lie the real problem with “Rush”.   

Rush (2013) on IMDb 8.4/107,734 votes


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