I didn’t really want to see this movie, despite the mostly great reviews. I’m not a fan of Formula One racing and had never heard of either James Hunt or Niki Lauda, drivers and rivals of McEnroe-Borg proportions. But Michael wanted to see it, having been to a few races years ago, and director Ron Howard has been promoting the film on Twitter, making it sound enticing, and Peter Morgan, the screenwriter of such terrific movies as “Frost/Nixon” and “The Queen,” wrote the script.
So….off I went. And I was blown away. “Rush” is spectacular filmmaking on every level. Chris Hemsworth is a thing of beauty as the handsome playboy Hunt, the Brit who partied almost as hard as he drove himself to win a championship, and Daniel Bruhl is an excellent Lauda, the Austrian who wasn’t the least bit charming or attractive but who prided himself on being a master tactician. They were as different as two men could be – maybe McEnroe-Lendl is a better comparison in tennis terms – but each pushed the other to be better, work harder, go faster.
The cinematography alone is stunning. How Howard shot the racing scenes is beyond me. He puts us not only inside the cockpits but inside the heads of the two drivers. Talk about an adrenaline rush. There were times when I was involuntarily pressing my foot to the floor of the theater, as if trying to brake.
So yes, there’s a lot of Formula One stuff in the movie. Of course there is. But I most enjoyed the relationship between the two men, and at the very end we get to see footage of the real-life Hunt and Lauda.
And let’s face it. Just staring at Hemsworth for two hours was entertainment enough. He’s got the great looks and the sly swagger to take on the roles Brad Pitt is too old for now – say, an “Oceans” movie with a new generation of con men. My only quibble would be the gruesomeness of the post-crash scenes; Lauda is trapped in his car when it explodes in flames and his face is badly burned. We really didn’t need to see closeups of the bloody mess. We got it. Otherwise, a winner.