Rush

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

James Hunt and Niki Lauda are two highly skilled race car drivers who first develop a fierce rivalry in 1970 at a Formula Three race at the Crystal Palace circuit in England, when both their cars spin out and Hunt eventually wins the race. Hunt is a brash, young Englishman with a tendency to vomit before every race, while Lauda is a cool, calculating Austrian technical genius who relies on precision. After a falling out with his father, Lauda takes a large bank loan and buys his way into the BRM Formula One team, meeting teammate Clay Regazzoni for the first time. Meanwhile, Hesketh Racing, the fledgling racing team Hunt drives for, enters Formula One as well. Lauda then joins Scuderia Ferrari with Regazzoni and wins his first championship in 1975. Hesketh closes shop after failing to secure a sponsor, but Hunt manages to land a driving position in McLaren after Emerson Fittipaldi leaves the team. During this time, Hunt marries supermodel Suzy Miller, while Lauda develops a relationship with German socialite Marlene Knaus.

The 1976 Formula One season starts with Lauda dominating the first two races while Hunt struggles to catch up. Hunt wins the Spanish Grand Prix, but is disqualified after a post-race inspection rules that his car is too wide. Struggling to comply with F1 rules, McLaren suffers a series of setbacks on the next few races, and Hunt’s situation is further exacerbated when Suzy is discovered to have a relationship with Richard Burton. Following his divorce, he regains his competitive spirit and his disqualification in Spain is overturned, which reinstates the points he lost and puts him back into championship contention. Meanwhile, Lauda marries Marlene in a private ceremony but begins to have concerns about the effects of his marriage on his racing career.

At the German Grand Prix, Lauda urges the F1 committee to cancel the race due to heavy rain on the already notoriously dangerous Nürburgring. At the drivers’ meeting, Hunt argues that Lauda would benefit by having one fewer race in the season. The drivers vote to go ahead with the race. Both Hunt and Lauda start the race with wet weather tyres, which becomes a costly tactic due to most of the track quickly drying up. They both pit to change tyres during the second lap, but halfway through the third lap, a suspension arm in Lauda’s Ferrari breaks, sending the car flying into an embankment before it bursts into flames and is further hit by other cars on the track. After being pulled out of the flaming wreckage, he is airlifted to the hospital with third-degree burns to his head and face and dangerous internal burns to his lungs. For the next six weeks, Lauda is treated for his injuries while he watches his rival dominate the races in his absence. Against his doctor’s orders, he returns behind the wheel of his Ferrari at the Italian Grand Prix to finish fourth while Hunt fails to finish the race.

The 1976 season comes to a climax at the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix. Hunt’s late rally in Lauda’s absence has pulled him within three points of Lauda. At the end of the second lap, Lauda returns to the pits and retires from the race, opting to stay with Marlene instead of risking his life again on the track. This opens the door for Hunt to win the championship if he can notch a podium finish (third or better). After facing stiff competition under grueling conditions and overcoming tyre problems and injuring his hand due to the gear shifter knob breaking, Hunt finishes third, giving him enough points to win the championship by one point over Lauda. He spends the rest of the year with fame, sex, and drugs, while Lauda takes an interest in flying private planes. At a private airfield in Bologna, Lauda suggests to Hunt that he focus on the next racing season, but later on realizes that Hunt no longer has anything to prove. Hunt continues to race until his retirement in 1979, and becomes a motorsport broadcast commentator until his death in 1993 at the age of 45.

REVIEW:

My little brother was a big racing fan when he was little. I think he was more into NASCAR, but racing was racing. At least it was until he saw Dale Earnhardt’s crash live on TV. I think it left some scars. At any rate, I’ve never been a racing fan. There just is nothing appealing to me about driving breakneck speed and turning left for some 60+ laps. So, why watch Rush? A mixture of good word of mouth and being overruled by the lady of the house.

What is this about?

This dramatic portrayal of the intense 1970s rivalry between race drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt captures the contrasts between the two champions. While Hunt was a charming and handsome ladies’ man, Lauda was a loner with a single goal: victory.

What did I like?

Contrasting rivalry. Usually rivals tend to be either carbon copies of each other or total opposites. For example, take Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Harry is somewhat quiet, reserved, dark-haired, and poor. On the other side, Malfoy is loud, obnoxious, blonde, and rich. Of course they’re going to butt heads, right? Somehow this trope played out in real life as Nikki Lauda and James Hunt couldn’t have been more different. The only thing they happened to have in common was a love for racing. The contrast in their personalities was played up in this film and made for an interesting dynamic.

Races. When I watched Cars and Speed Racer for the first time, I seem to remember saying something along the lines of “if car racing was like this, then I’d actually watch.” In that same vein, after watching the races in this flick, I’d be willing to check out an event or two, if they were this exciting. Even though I’ve never watched a Formula 1 race in my life, I know they are not like this. Maybe the quick camera cuts and the built up tension and whatnot would make them more interesting, though.

Thor no more. Who is Chris Hemsworth? Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 3 or 4 years, then you have to know that this is the guy who did the impossible by bringing Thor to life on the big screen. Some thought he would be typecast as the big, blonde hunk type character for the rest of his career. Well, going strictly on an eye test, it looks as if Hemsworth shed a good chunk of that Thor muscle for this role (actually, he has to bulk up to play Thor, he isn’t normally that buff…sorry ladies), but more importantly he shows off some truly stellar acting chops that will carry him to a long career in Hollywood if chooses the right roles after this days in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are over.

What didn’t I like?

Wilde and out. Make no mistake, this film is all about the rivalry between Nikki Lauda an James Hunt, so any female distractions aren’t going to take center stage. With that in mind, one has to wonder why you waste Olivia Wilde as Hunt’s wife. She gets a little bit of screen time but not enough to justify her being in this role, as opposed to some lower profile actress. Maybe her reason for taking this role was that she just looked that part or wanted to have a part in a Ron Howard picture.

Lauda. Sometimes foreigners can come off as annoying but that is just a result of their culture clashing with ours. With this characterization of Nikki Lauda, that isn’t the case. He’s just an, as he put it, “arsehole.” Not only does he think he knows everything, he goes on to impart his knowledge to everyone, whether they want it or not. After losing a race, he complains about Hunt’s care being 5/8 of an inch over regulations. There is also the little matter of him being rich and buying his way into Formula One. Whether it is this actor’s portrayal of the man or the way he was written, I wanted to do nothing more than punch him in the face, even after his near fatal accident.

Andretti. In a few of the races, a name that is known to the sports world, especially those involved in racing, is mentioned, Mario Andretti. As far as I can tell, that is the only part he had in this film, and I think that was just so that we can have an idea of who else was racing at this point in time, besides Hunt and Lauda, that would go on to big things. I appreciate the effort, but if they were going to go through all that trouble, then they should have cast somebody as Andretti, if even for a very small appearance.

Some people felt Rush deserved more critical acclaim that it received, particularly from the Academy. While this is a good film, and I think it could have been a contender had it been released at the right time, I’m not so sure that it is Oscar-worthy. This is just one of those real good dramas that impresses its audience and leaves it at that. Sure, it could be better, but there are so many spots in here where a lesser director would have made this worse. Just imagine if this would have been a Michael Bay picture. There’s be nothing but explosions and scantily clad young girls…and the military, can’t forget Bay’s hard-on for the military. None of that would have fit in to the history. As it is, this film apparently sticks pretty close what actually happens and that, if nothing else, is worth giving this a shot. Yes, I do recommend this, so give it a go!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: