January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 45°F


Review: Racing film rushes into deeper territory


Directed by Ron Howard

Two race cars zoom past the camera, bumping wheels as they navigate turn after turn on the track. Clearly ahead of the others, they jostle for position, looking to grab the lead and claim the victory. The wheels bump once more, and both cars spin out of control. One racer manages to restart his engine and speeds his way to victory.

“Rush,” directed by Ron Howard, is the high-octane adaptation of a true story about two European Formula One drivers and their fierce rivalry as they battle for supremacy in a series of races that take place in countries around the world. One driver, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), is a British party animal whose wild antics off the track sometimes distract from his skills on it. Hunt’s rival, Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), who also acts as Hunt’s antithesis, is a conservative and calculated racer who prefers to spend his off-time improving his tactics as opposed to partying the night away. The film follows the two as they compete for the top prize in the 1976 Formula One season, and features the triumphant highs and crushing lows the drivers experience in both their personal and professional lives.

“Rush” is a thrill ride from start to finish. The direction and cinematography plant the viewer up close and personal with the cars and their drivers who race and skid past the screen. This makes every swerving maneuver of the racers seem dangerous and possibly life-risking, adding significantly to the drama at hand and keeping the action intense and thrilling.

These exhilarating moments are balanced by equally important scenes off the track, moving this movie past a simple action thriller to a deeply emotional tale. The film takes an enticing look at the personal lives of both drivers as they deal with the stress that fame has brought and the media scrutiny created, with issues ranging from broken relationships to deadly crashes. Hunt and Lauda’s lives take as many twists and turns as the tracks they race on.

The performances of Hemsworth and Bruhl are captivating, and their chemistry together provides for some intense moments, especially their interactions away from the cameras, which reveal the true desires and feelings of both men. After one particularly thrilling race, the men discuss their plans for the evening, with Hunt keen on celebrating and partying with friends while Lauda intends to rest and prepare for the next matchup, further expressing the contrast between the two. Howard includes many scenes that show this divergence between the characters, like when Lauda quietly helps his wife into the car and drives off, while Hunt takes a swig of beer and heads back to his celebrating friends.

Howard has crafted an engaging and heart-pounding story with “Rush.” The performances are commendable, the direction is masterful and the film is a must-see for those seeking an intriguing and riveting narrative.