I saw RUSH on a whim. On a last minute ‘I’m stood next to the cinema and I’ve got two hours to kill and I’ve got a free ticket to use and the doors opened five minutes ago’ decision. Before I knew it, it was the 1970s, and I had a front row seat* on the rivalry that help make Formula 1 the global phenomenon we know it as today.
Ron Howard is a dab hand at his historical recreations (see Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon) and I should’ve seen that much coming. But I didn’t. Instead I sat back and enjoyed a tale that I kind of half knew, but half didn’t (this all happened before I was born and I didn’t get into Formula 1 until my late teens), and what a tale it is.
For those of you that don’t know –
…the film is based on the true story of the great sporting rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel BrÃ¼hl). The story follows their distinctly different personal styles on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error: if you make a mistake, you die.
Thank you, IMDb.
But what of the film? Three main performances stood out for me.
First, Chris Hemsworth does very well as the (over-)confident and care-free James Hunt. Wild enough to be worrying, and yet intense enough on the track to be inspiring. The man is out to prove something, and he won’t stop until he does it. Having got used to Hemsworth as the lightning-wielding god of thunder, THOR, it’s quite nice to see him flex his dramatic muscles in something other than the Marvel cinematic universe. Good job.
Next, Daniel BrÃ¼hl is amazing. Admittedly, his is the character that arguably goes through the most dramatic of arc however, having since seen a documentary about the very same story (just a day after catching RUSH, great timing) it is unbelievable how much he completely nails it as Niki Lauda. Everything from the look, the voice, the mannerisms – all of it is just brilliant. While RUSH is billed as a two-hander (and Hemsworth does hold his own) this is very much BrÃ¼hl’s film. I’m on the look out for more of his stuff as I type…
Third and finally, Olivia Wilde, as Hunt’s main love interest, brings surprising depth to what could’ve easily been a one-note, blink and you’ll miss it character. I haven’t seen Wilde in much (I know her mainly from House and Tron: Legacy) however I’m looking forward to seeing more of her as I really thought, for someone who had very limited screen time, Olivia Wilde does very well indeed.
As I said before, Ron Howard excels at this kind of thing and RUSH is no exception. Everything is meticulously recreated and original footage/audio is used where it isn’t. Combined, this creates an atmosphere of just being there which, funnily enough, is exactly what you want in film. No, really.
In short: RUSH is really bloody great. I made a snap decision to see it and in the world where every decision you make matters, I’m glad I chose so well.
It’s still on general release and if you haven’t already, you should go.
*Not literally. I haven’t done that since Django, and that was just mental.