North Texas Daily

Movie Review: ‘Rush’ Brings Intense Racing-Action

Movie Review: ‘Rush’ Brings Intense Racing-Action

Movie Review: ‘Rush’ Brings Intense Racing-Action
September 26
19:56 2013

Preston Barta // Film Critic

Rush” | 123 min. | Rated R | Director:  | Stars: , , , and

Rating: 3.5/4

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard has provided audiences with a mixed bag of films over the years, with cinematic misfires such as “The Dilemma” (2011) and “Angels & Demons” (2009). But on the other hand, no filmmaker can handle biopics quite like ‘Richie Cunningham’ can. If you have seen “Apollo 13” (1995), “Cinderella Man” (2005) and/or “Frost/Nixon” (2008), you would know that he is more than capable of producing high quality work. With “Rush,” Howard returns to the genre he knows best and provides a superbly shot, sharply written and performed film that gives audiences exactly what the title suggests.

Based on the true story of a great sporting rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) in the 1970s, “Rush” follows the driving duo and their distinct personal styles on and off the track, as they are willing to risk their lives to become world champions.

The tension that Howard creates in “Rush” is astonishing. Pistons pump, colors race off the screen and engines roar so loud that they practically deafen the audience. But beyond the film’s technical achievements, it’s Peter Morgan’s high-octane script that should truly have Oscar voters on their toes, as the screenplay races across the finish line with flying colors.

Morgan avoids many of the traditional pitfalls of the racing genre by concentrating on the character-driven conflict, exemplified by Lauda’s hospital scenes following a nearly fatal accident. In a series of gruesome but powerful sequences, Lauda demands more pain to speed his recovery and revenge against Hunt. These include sucking blood out of his lungs not once, but twice, in an intense procedure that is painful to watch. The racetrack doesn’t suffer from the thorough explorations of Morgan’s characters, however. It’s hard to contain the visceral excitement when the racing is on screen, most notably and appropriately during the final race of the film.

Even when he’s not swinging a hammer and generating lightning, Hemsworth manages to bring that charm that we grew to love in “Thor” (2011). Filmgoers will like his character as soon as he strides on screen. But what’s even more startling is the fact that we watch his character go from this friendly British playboy to a flawed man that we simultaneously pity and hold in high regard. It’s a marvelous performance worthy of note come Oscar time.

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl star in "Rush." Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl star in “Rush.” Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

It’s Brühl (“Inglourious Basterds,” 2009), however, that takes home the acting trophy. His facial expressions, his rat-like teeth and his confident yet calculated persona are nothing short of miraculous. It’s very clear that Brühl has a firm understanding and clear admiration for Lauda. His sensitive performance is as infectious as it is complex and nuanced.

One of the great strengths of “Rush” is its utter lack of a hero or villain. Hunt and Lauda had privileged backgrounds and are extremely gifted behind the wheel. Both have respectable reasons for racing, a fact that is sure to divide the audience when it comes time to choose which one to root for. In the end, it’s the audience who wins, for “Rush” is an engaging presentation of a gut-wrenchingly powerful tale.

“Rush” opens in theaters tomorrow.

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