Film Focus: Epic duel for F1 crown retold in ‘Rush’


Rush tells the story of F1 drivers James Hunt and Nikki Lauda

RON Howard is probably best known as a Hollywood director these days as any acting he has done is now well over 30 years ago.

Movie fans will know him as the man behind films such as ‘A Beautiful Mind’ ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘the Da Vinci code’ but Howard once was an actor whose most famous role was probably Richie Cunningham from hit 1970s US sit-com ‘Happy Days.

He also starred opposite the late great John Wayne in ‘The Shootist’ – a role which won the young actor a golden globe nomination.

Howard is far from the most prolific director on the circuit but he seems to choose the films he works on very carefully, seeming to pick films he really wants to make and stories he feels are worth telling.

This week sees the release of Ron Howard’s latest work all about the glamorous world of formula one motor racing and specifically about two of the sports biggest names, and greatest talents of recent years

‘Rush’ is all about the fierce rivalry between English driver James Hunt and Austrian Nikki Lauda when the pair raced against each other during the early 1970s.

This was a time many considered a golden age for motor racing and it was certainly a time when drivers were seen more as daredevils and when safety was far from what it is in the sport today.

Each year two drivers lost their lives during the formula one season, the film informs us through the narration of Austrian driver Niki Lauda.

Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth was a flamboyant character who came from a privileged background but who lived life on the edge and raced cars since he first got his licence – getting into racing with a little help from a rich friend.

Lauda, portrayed here quite brilliantly by Daniel Bruhl, came from a wealthy family in Vienna but also lived to race and soon worked his way up to the top level, his ability and skill shining through having been virtually disowned by his family for not pursuing a career in banking.

The pair first crossed swords in formula three and both instantly took a dislike to the other.

Lauda made it to F1 first, by investing in a struggling team while Hunt managed to get in when McLaren lost one of their leading drivers.

Rush follows the two drivers as they battle through a number of seasons as their rivalry builds.

Matters reach boiling point during the 1976 season as Hunt in his McLaren and Laud’s Ferrari fight a fierce battle for the championship – Lauda is reigning champ and Hunt the exciting young contender.

Billed as a film with some fabulous racing sequences I was disappointed at this aspect of the movie with very little screen time given to some of the key races during that 1976 season.

Hemsworth is very good as the reckless, womanising Hunt but Bruhl’s protrayal of the humourless Lauda is a performance which steals the show, and may well be worth an award or two when the time comes.

Howard once again tells a great story very well but I felt this wasn’t quite the adrenaline fuelled epic racing movie it was supposed to be.

Whether you know the story or not ‘Rush’ is a great story about two adversaries battling to become world champion. But whether Rush is a great movie – I’m not so sure.

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