Ron Howard's Rush is a slick, heart-pounding film exploring the legendary rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in 1970s Formula 1 racing. The two competitors could not be more different with Hunt being the consummate playboy who spends his time drowning in booze and woman, relying on his natural talent to win. On the other hand is Niki Lauda, the ultimate tactician, an extremely disciplined man who spends most of his time meticulously perfecting his craft. These men could not be more different on the surface and Rush does a great job at capturing the dichotomy between these two men. While this contrast is the major narrative thrust of the film, Howard's Rush uses this to also showcase how these men are in fact similiar, both at the mercy of their competitiveness and desire to win. They begin to respect and even admire one and other, each being able to learn something from the other. Chris Hemsworth does a fine job as James Hunt but I was particularly impressed with Daniel Bruhl's portrayal of Niki Lauda, who really is the central character of the film. Outside of this fascinating rivalry, the racing sequences are certainly the high point of the film. The cinematography and sound design do a great job at transporting the viewer into the race, making us feel the excitement and and life and death stakes of this profession. Much of the dramatic weight of Rush falls a little flat, almost feeling too rushed, like Ron Howard and company where simply trying to get back to the driving sequences. That being said, Howard manages to avoid manipulative storytelling by and large with Rush, understanding that this story does not need to be deep on an intellectual or emotional level to be thrilling and effective.
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