There isn't a single thing I like about car racing. And when I say "car racing," I mean car racing in every form. I think it's all boring and never impressive. Rush, the new film from Oscar-winning directory Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13), is about Formula One racing. Now, if you're gonna rank the different factions of this "sport," NASCAR is definetly on the bottom and Formula One is at the top. So obviously this movie had its work cut out for it if it was going to win me over as a fan. I'm thrilled to say that it did and might be one of my favorite films of 2013 so far.
Specifically, the movie is based on the true story of rivals James Hunt, who's played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Cabin in the Woods) and Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds, The Fifth Estate HEAR MY FULL INTERVIEW WITH HIM BELOW), as NIki Lauda. It spans many years of their relationship but mainly focuses on the 1976 Grand Prix championship. I know nothing about the world of Formula One but I knew the name Niki Lauda before seeing this because he always shows up on all the Top 10 Worst Sports Injuries of All Time lists. If you don't know what happens to him, I won't spoil it here but it's pretty gruesome and Howard shows it in all its ugly glory.
But what sets this film apart from most other sports films is that it's about the men and not the sport. Their relationship was complicated, competitive and inspiring. It's not a sports movie that's sappy like Brian's Song but you may feel your eyes sweat in certain scenes because they're so moving. Both actors are great but Bruhl pulls ahead fully capturing the almost Autistic nature of Lauda. He's unlikable and likable in every single sentence he says. It's a very impressive character to watch. Hemsworth shows us that he's more than just a pretty boy or superhero however playing a sexy, playboy must not have been much of a leap for him.
However, the reason you see Rush is for Ron Howard's directing. This may be his finest film and yes, I know how bold of a statement that is. The man who made Backdraft, Willow, Ransom, Cocoon, Frost/Nixon and Cinderella Man may have made something better than all of those. The only film that gives Rush a run for its money is A Beautiful Mind but Rush is so different from that I think I can only say they're equally as good. Aside from the attention to the 1970s details in sets, cars, clothes, etc., the racing scenes are utterly spectacular. It's hard to tell what's stock footage, what's Green Screen and what's live racing shot for the film. The pinnacle of the film is the historic and infamous rain-soaked race that took place in Japan in 1976. That 10-15 minutes of the 123-minute-long running time is enough to earn the man an Oscar nomination and I really hope he gets one.
I know it's cliche to say that the Oscar race is on but with a film like this I think it's totally appropriate. Rush is a movie that manages to be tender and ferocious; fun and inspirational. I can't think of many sports films that can pull off this level of quality and, speaking for myself, it's even more impressive that it's about a sport that I could honestly care less about. Prior to seeing Rush, I'd say it was made for a very narrowed audience but after a viewing I can honestly say that there aren't many people who wouldn't absolutely love it.
Gavin spoke with one of the stars of Rush, Daniel Bruhl: