Rush Review
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In 2008, director Ron Howard teamed up with writer Peter Morgan for the surprisingly thrilling historical drama, Frost/Nixon—a film that went on to garner five Oscar nominations. Now, the duo is looking for similar success with their latest historical drama, Rush.

Rush tells the story of a legendary rivalry between two Formula 1 racers in the 1970s. Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) was a tough, serious Austrian racer who personally secured the loans to buy his way into the circuit. James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), on the other hand, was a carefree British playboy who raced just like he lived: without holding anything back.

The film follows the two racers as they make their way up to Formula 1—each of the men constantly keeping a close eye on the other—until their rivalry comes to a head in August of 1976.

In a country full of NASCAR fans, a Formula 1 drama could prove to be a tough sell. Just ask Turbo, the IndyCar kids’ movie that struggled at the box office earlier this year. But those who do give Rush a shot may find that it’s not exactly what they’re expecting.

After all, Rush isn’t a Fast & Furious movie—nor is it Days of Thunder. Though the main characters may be professional racecar drivers—and highly successful ones at that—the film isn’t exactly loaded with high-speed action. In fact, aside from just a few brief racing scenes, the film tends to focus on the duo’s off-track drama. It may talk about the dangers of racing, but it spends more time examining the business of racing and the characters’ relationships with their wives while offering occasional glimpses into the heated exchanges between the two characters.

What the film doesn’t explore, however, are the true complexities of the racers’ rivalry. While, in the film, the two characters seem to be little more than hostile strangers, in reality, they were more like ultra-competitive frienemies. And that aspect of the relationship is lacking here. Instead, the film often feels distant and a little dry, focusing too much on the drama of the racers’ individual lives and not enough on the thrill of the race and the competitors’ complicated relationship.

Meanwhile, though the story is supposed to be Lauda’s, his charismatic rival instantly steals the show. The arrogant and meticulous Austrian tends to fade into the background, overpowered by the fun-filled scenes involving his hard-partying adversary. While Lauda is a fascinating character in his own way, Hunt is simply a lot more fun to watch. Not only does Hunt’s outrageous behavior make it hard to focus on the true hero of the story, but that imbalance throws off the basic foundation of the story.

Fortunately, though, this intriguing true tale does build some surprisingly gripping suspense in the end. As the tension between the characters builds, you’ll find yourself getting more and more caught up in their race for the 1976 championship. The film has some thrilling moments along the way, too—but, in order to make it to the exciting conclusion of this real-life race, you’ll have to endure a few spin-outs and caution flags on your way to the winner’s circle.

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