Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: September 27, 2013 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man) winningly revisits his Grand Theft Auto days in another compelling collaboration with scenarist Peter Morgan.
Set amidst the same timeframe as Frost/Nixon another riveting rivalry comes to fruition in "Rush" with sweeping gritty kineticism but handled with dramatic finesse in honing into the Formula One race scene.
Shifting between the racetracks and personal situations of lead characters well-portrayed by Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers) and Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds) turns out to more exhilarating than expected, even with a final flourish of the maudlin.
Building to the 1976 F1 season is the jostling of the U.K.'s James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Austrian's Niki Lauda (Bruhl). Their competitive wiles and varying styles in the sport as they become married to Suzy (a pretty graceful Olivia Wilde of Drinking Buddies and Tron: Legacy) and Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara of The Reader) with loyal their Ford and Ferrari teammates begins to simmer. From Brazil to Tokyo, Lauda is on top of the challenging circuit until a brush with deal at the German Grand Prix leaves him permanently disfigured (as one scene doesn't shy away from the horrors of the sport).
Morgan's latest script is attuned and tenacious to the motives and passions of a raucous party boy like the long-tressed Hunt and the technical, clinical prowess of Lauda letting Hemsworth and Bruhl stream in the underpinnings as the ups and downs suddenly unfold. Bruhl's method into the nuance is more focused and understated, if muted in a way but arguably more effective than a loose rendering by Hemsworth (consider his British accent) who does draw some power from a sense of admiration of his adversary.
Yet, it all runs in a zippy, thrilling way without all the CGI pizzazz (with clever, intimate camerawork and placement) with Howard knowing how the on-and-off the track stuff can coexist allowing the energy to release the submerged and subtext. Even the distaff side of a fine international cast isn't relegated to the background given decent turns by Wilde (sporting a better accent and whose supermodel would later hook up with Richard Burton) and a more subtle one by Lara.
In a sparkling look at differing perspectives of success, the emotional aspects of the script really connect in the latter going before a nice touch to include the actual footage of the charismatic Hunt and Lauda. The achievement in filmmaking and storytelling is augmented by the pacey editing of Dan Hanley and Mike Hill as well as especially the lustrous lensing by Anthony Dod Mantle to really enliven the races in a grainy, authentic recreation of the period and very stalwart sound design work. Rush isn't just for Formula One fans as those looking for a good time at the multiplex will like how even through controversial restarts the action is truly set for high-caliber drama.