This review of RUSH (2013) was written by Sam Sewell-Peterson and special guest writer Stefan Mackley. Stefan’s personal blog is Motorsportmadness.
The Film Buff’s Take
I’m not a sporty person, and am not particularly familiar with Formula 1, past or present. Ron Howard’s RUSH makes a connection not because it’s a convincing and visceral recreation of an infamous period in Formula 1, but because it convincingly and affectingly represents the clashing personalities of two passionate, but deeply flawed and fascinating men.
The racing set pieces that have featured so prominently in the film’s marketing, technically impressive as they are, mainly serve to punctuate the (for me) far more compelling scenes exploring the characters and relationships of Niki Lauda (Daniel Brϋhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). That’s why so many critics are saying that you don’t need to be an F1 fan to get something out of it. You don’t – I’ve never watched a race in my life, but found Rush to be one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen this year.
The pacing, visuals, editing, sound, script and particularly the performances are near-flawless. The story was ready-made to be told on film – the themes, the drama, the spectacle was already there waiting for Peter Morgan to adapt, and Ron Howard to put on screen. The film occasionally slips into being a conventional Hollywood sports or biopic movie style-wise, but thankfully finds its feet again quickly through humour, performance and sheer energy. All-in-all it’s another successful collaboration between Ron Howard and Peter Morgan, and a hugely satisfying film on most levels. If Brϋhl doesn’t get recognition for his smartly nuanced take on Lauda come awards season then I’d be deeply surprised. SSP
The Motorsport Fan’s Take
As an avid F1 and motor racing fan it would be easy for me to criticise certain aspects of this film regarding racing scenes and historical facts which are dramatized to cater for a mass audience. Hunt and Lauda, for example, are depicted meeting for the first time at a Formula 3 race which never happened and the CGI effect of Lauda’s near fatal crash is far from the most convincing.
There are a number of other “flaws”, but to pick over these and say it made Rush a bad film would be disrespectful to the performances of Brϋhl and Hemsworth and the brilliant script written by Peter Morgan.
This is a film with no real villain, instead allowing the audience to experience two very different characters but both with the same desire and will to win and who have mutual respect for each other. Add to that some incredible audio from cars of the era and some sensational cinematography and you have a film that lives and breathes a time when racing was dangerous and as Lauda claimed, “you had a 20% chance of dying”.
Put simply, Rush is stunning, and for any motor racing enthusiast to suggest otherwise based purely on the racing aspects is missing the point of the film entirely. It’s a film which shows the human side of the sport, when having a personality in F1 counted for something, and allows us to remember an incredible battle between two amazing drivers which was very much real. SM