Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara
Rating: R (sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use)
Synopsis: The merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
By Cole Schneider
Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) has returned with Rush, an adrenaline ride with character. Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers) and Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds) both deliver standout performances as rival race car drivers. James Hunt (Hemsworth) is fast and loose both on and off the track. He has a driving need for attention and is reckless in his pursuit of it, but he’s not without a heart. Niki Lauda (Bruhl) plays things closer to the chest both on the track and in his life. Not only does he not have the same need for friends as Hunt, he’s downright mean in his efforts to ensure that he remains friendless, yet he’s not without a heart.
The interplay between the two drivers and the two men is packed with all the thrills of speeding 200 mph past a competitor on a sharp left turn, but the film never forgets that its real intrigue lies in its characters. As two men who need to beat each other yet still need the other to succeed, Hunt and Lauda may as well be Ali and Frazier, Magic and Bird, or Auburn and Alabama. Rush presents concepts of competitive drive, rivalry, respect, will, frustration, hope, risk, despair, life, and love as existing on the same plane, and anyone who’s ever poured themselves into competing in anything at any level knows this to be true. After Raging Bull and Hoop Dreams, Rush has to be immediately considered among the greatest sports movies ever made.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
By Matt Greene
Ron Howard is the rare Hollywood auteur that doesn’t have a distinctive style (how did the guy that gave us “Frost /Nixon” give us Jim Carrey’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”?!). In his latest film “Rush”, we get a glimpse of Howard playing with some Danny Boyle-esque flair, especially in the racing scenes. Unfortunately, outside of this visceral, kinetic spirit, “Rush” lacks an emotional connection with its audience, leaving us in the dust with only a memory of what just sped past.
The amazing true story about the on-and-off-the-track rivalry of racers James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Bruhl) should be ripe pickings for good filmmaking. The story has some unexpected turns that are enlivened by their being true. Add to that some decent performances and a strong middle section involving a hospital, this should be a no-brainer success. Sadly the film fails in a number of other ways: the dialogue, while not bad, is unoriginal and boring, clichéd and overly-Hollywood. This along with some silly, overwrought Hollywood moments (“We may hate each other, but at least we respect each other”) hurt “Rush” immensely.
Admittedly, I am not a racing fan of any kind, and this is clearly a movie made for them. Nonetheless, I think Howard is trying to reach beyond this demographic but comes up short. “Rush” is by no means a complete failure, but when it steps away from the formula 1 racing and slows down, it really putters out…pun totally intended.
2.5 out of 5 stars.