The need for speed

Rush-with-Chris-Hemsworth

3SR: A joy for the speed junkies, Golden God Hemsworth embodies the archetypal 70 playboy as Formula One star James Hunt in Rush, but it’s the tale of Lauda’s determination that makes the film.

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl and Olivia Wilde

Directed by Ron Howard

Written by Peter Morgan
Biography, drama, sport, true story. 2hr 03mins. R13 for violence, offensive language, sex scenes and content that may disturb.

***1/2

Rich boys with expensive toys and a need for speed may be the subject of Rush, but the themes of Ron Howard’s latest epic are determination and passion.

Following the high octane (if somewhat dramatised) real-life rivalry of 70s Formula One racing champions  James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) Rush is a familiar tale of opposites butting heads, and competition forging character.

When Posh playboy Hunt  follows his wilful, wayward, and self-indulgent  heart all the way to the race track he’s an instant hit.

But taming his wild ways and his ego long enough to beat his dedicated and talented rival, Lauda, will prove the driver’s biggest challenge yet.

Irreverent, charming and with the talent to back up his eccentric habits (hates shoes, loves budgies), Hemsworth’s Hunt appears like the archetypal 70s golden god of the race track – a charismatic man-child with a guts or glory (but glory first, thanks) attitude that is both supremely annoying and incredibly engaging.


Rush’s engine idles a little over Hunt, spending too long on the playboy superstar bedding beauties, drinking like an alcoholic fish in a distillery and wining races (bouts of nervous pre-race vomiting not withstanding either achievement).

It’s not until Lauda throws an achingly uptight Teutonic spanner into Hunt’s jolly good works that the film’s sparks really begin to fly.

With that ‘‘rat faced kraut’’ on the scene, Hunt is forced to pick up his game.

Rush picks up speed too when the focus shifts to Lauda and his horrific crash during during the German Grand Prix at the notoriously dangerous Nurburgring track, becoming a much more engaging and fresh film.

Set up as a result of Hunt’s gregarious devil-may-care attitude butting against Lauda’s grating personality – macho chest beating resulting in disaster – Lauda’s crash becomes the turning point of the film.

Howard is unflinching in showing the horrors of Lauda’s injuries, often to the point of over indulgence – the scenes where his lungs are vacuumed of pus are particularly gruelling.

But it serves to underpin the determination Lauda shows in overcoming the injuries later.


When Lauda, his grip on life as tenacious as his grip on a steering wheel, returns to the track less than six weeks after the crash  it is as exhilarating and humbling for the audience as it appears for Hunt and his crew.

Rush is Howard’s best looking film to date. Daring and very beautiful,  the way Howard’s camera captures the velocity and excitement of F1 racing will be a joy for any speed junkie.

Amping up the tension with deft pacing and often sublime cuts between the drivers’ points of view and the track, Rush is about as close as any of us are ever likely to get to legendary F1 tracks like Brands Hatch, Monaco, or Nurburgring.

I’ll spray a magnum or two of bubbles over that.


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