Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars
Bottom Line: Good story. Engaging characters. Made racing interesting. Excellent racing scenes. Beautiful backdrops.
Niki Lauda is a complete asshole. Everybody thinks so. Everybody says so too. But here’s the thing. James Hunt is equally an asshole, but everyone loves him. Well, except Niki Lauda. To Niki, James represents everything that is wrong with racing. James just happens to be an asshole in all the socially acceptable ways while Niki is not. In the end, they are two sides to the same coin. Driven. Frightened. Crazy.
“Rush” tells the true(ish) story of the rivalry between the two men. They are both the best at what they do and that’s drive cars at irresponsible speeds. The two best are bound to be rivals, but I think this is fueled more from the mutual recognition that there is something in the other that both James and Niki crave. James wants Niki’s methodical determinism. Niki envies James’ free spirit and devil-may-care attitude. The rivalry makes each better than they every would have been alone.
The storytelling is very effective. You quickly get a feel for both Niki’s and James’ character. Where they come from. What drives them. What their weaknesses are. It drags slightly during the middle third but only for a while. There is also a bunch of inside racing stuff that is sure to be fun for all the people who know more about cars than I do. Niki Lauda was quite a mechanical genius in addition to being a top driver. Changes he made during his time revolutionized the racing industry.
And since this is a movie about racing, something should be said about the race scenes, no? They are top notch. Filled with beautiful camera angles and spectacular cinematography. You get a good feel for why someone would be stupid enough to strap themselves in to a speeding bomb and race other people in an effort to see who doesn’t blow up. Friends who know much more about formula one racing than I do say that it was much more interesting in the 70’s than it is now. Like all racing, more interesting means more dangerous.
“Rush” is a great effort by Ron Howard. I don’t think it’s good enough for Oscar contention, but it’s certainly the kind of movie that generates Oscar buzz. Regardless, it’s a movie worth seeing.