Film Review: Director Ron Howard Delivers a Meticulous ‘Rush’

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CHICAGO – Defining the glory days of any sport is often centered on personal rivalries. The 1970s – notable for stand-offs like John McEnroe and Björn Borg – had a similarly contentious rivalry between Formula One car racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, portrayed in Ron Howard’s “Rush.”

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

It was an amazing era for the sport, as it moved up from European interest to worldwide phenomenon. Hunt and Lauda faced off in the 1976 season, one year after Lauda had won the Formula One championship. Both men were “driven” by their own demons, which screenwriter Peter Morgan and director Ron Howard nicely exploit. There is a sense of the old country grit in the British Hunt and Austrian Lauda, as they fight beyond the racetrack, to something more glorious and expressive in their psyche. It is a film about pushing the limits of sanity in a strange motor vehicle, but it is also about what consequences that push can leave behind. The film does repeat itself a bit as the actual races wear on, but Howard proves again that he’s not a one-trick director in any sense.

The Formula Three circuit – a league below Formula One – generates a couple of competitors who trade off the one and two positions, The Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) from Austria. Both are from wealthy families, and both feel a need for speed. Lauda manages to use family connections and bank loans to buy a Formula One team, Hunt moves up his own team to essentially follow his rival. Kiki Lauda finishes as champion in 1975.

This troubles the ambitious Hunt, but he does finds time to canoodle with and marry the model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde). But the strain of competition causes the marriage to dissolve, as Hunt both loses his own car and then joins the Ferrari team. His opponent Lauda wants to repeat as champion, and also marries a socialite (Alexandra Maria Lara) along the way, but his laser-like focus on racing is in contrast to the more free-wheeling Hunt. The 1976 season has the two men trading first/second positions once again, but this time Lauda is severely burned in one race, and Hunt is constantly chasing the Austrian’s tail.

”Rush” opens everywhere on September 27th. Featuring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara and Christian McKay. Screenplay by Peter Morgan. Directed by Ron Howard. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ”Rush”

Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl
Team of Rivals: James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) in ‘Rush’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ”Rush”

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