Even though I once hosted a NASCAR video blog called Round N Round for CW44, I’m not what you call a “gear head”. Sometimes you do things you’re not proud of to break into the business. For me, that was trying to make cars driving in circles interesting. So my expectations were low heading into the new racing biopic Rush. Could you blame me? Rush covers the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, two Formula One racers from the 70s, who I knew zero about. But there was one thing that peaked my interest concerning Rush: Ron Howard sitting in the director’s chair. When the lights went down in the theater and the engines started for Rush, little did I know Ron Howard would make me look like an idiot for assuming the worst.
The focus of Rush is the 1976 Formula One season and the two drivers who made it incredible, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Chris Hemsworth takes on the role of wild-child, pretty boy James Hunt. Hemsworth proved in Rush that he’s more than just a pretty face swinging around a magical hammer. Hemsworth plays Hunt as a charisma monster with demons that range from women, booze and a vomit inducing fear of death. At times Hunt is seen as the hero, but he is also portrayed as wasted talent that squandered his gifts.
Hunt’s role reversal in Rush can be attributed to the breakout performance of Daniel Brühl as the no-nonsense Niki Lauda. At first, Lauda comes off as the arrogant villain of Rush with his treatment of other drivers he sees as beneath him as a racer. At times you want to rub Lauda’s nose in the dirt, but by the end of Rush, you really come to understand his cold-hearted, all business attitude. The two dynamic roles make it hard to decide who was the hero or the villain by the end of Rush.
The great performances and dueling lifestyles of the two main characters make Rush a unique sports movie experience. I know the field is small in this genre, but in my opinion Rush is the best racing movie ever made. Ron Howard shows he’s recovered from the debacle that was The Dilemma with the ability to make an adult sports movie with the freedom of an R rating. The race scenes are intense, the language is foul, naked women fall out of beds and the crashes are graphic.
Rush is a realistic look at the deadly sport in which these drivers risk their lives doing every time they hit the winding roads. Without a doubt, Rush was the biggest surprise for me at the movies this year. Whether you’re a fan of racing or not, Rush is a well made and engrossing biopic about two entirely different people battling for supremacy on the track. I know the genre is small, but Rush is the best racing movie ever made in my opinion. Overall I give Rush 3.5 out of 4 potatoes.
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