Director: Ron Howard
Screenwriter: Peter Morgan
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino
Rated PG-13 | 122 Minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Academy Award winner Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) reunites with writer Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen), on Rush, a film about the ’70s rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
Rush stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) as English playboy James Hunt and Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds) as Niki Lauda, a methodical Austrian racing driver and brilliant mechanic.
Ron Howard has made some great films: Apollo 13, Willow, A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon, and, of course, 1982’s Night Shift. He’s made a lot of disappointing, forgettable films too: The Dilemma, Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Edtv – just to name a few. Rush is somewhere in-between, a gorgeous looking film by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Dredd, Slumdog Millionaire) with two fantastic performances, but a script that is labored, cliché, and – dare I say it – slightly misogynistic.
Rush provides Thor with a chance to be Tony Stark, with Chris Hemsworth (AKA Chiseled Man Candy™) playing a charismatic bad boy and philanderer. There are two supporting female roles in Rush: Olivia Wilde briefly appears to play Hunt’s supermodel wife, and Alexandra Maria Lara, a similarly stunning woman who falls for Brühl’s Niki Lauda. When Lauda decides to propose to Lara’s Marlene, he essentially says “If I’m going to get married, it might as well be with you.” Touching.
As for Wilde, her character is reduced to a glamorous, gold-digging possession that Hunt briefly owns until she cheats on him with Richard Burton. When he isn’t on the track, Hemsworth’s character is busy having sex with stewardesses, nurses – basically just gorgeous women wearing “Sexy [insert occupation]” Halloween costumes. Women are better seen and not heard in Howard’s film – but of course this is the testosterone-and-gasoline fueled world of race car driving so, maybe I’m crazy for expecting female characters who exist somewhere between the mother and the whore.
Weak, practically nonexistent female characters aside, Hemsworth and Brühl deliver memorable performances. For fans of Formula One and the classic rivalry between Hunt and Lauda, Rush will serve as a faithful recreation of those events. For a film about racing, however, there seems to be little emphasis on the races themselves.
Several times during the film, Howard shows us the painstaking preparation before the race, only to transition to a noisy montage showing who won – without actually showing us the final lap. It’s like watching Rocky and seeing Rocky and Apollo Creed train for half the movie, only to bypass the actual match, skipping the knock-out punch and going straight to the final decision.
In summation, watching Ron Howard’s Rush is just like watching an actual race – it’s loud, tedious, and feels like it lasts forever. The personalities are larger than life and the rivalries are intriguing, but at the end of the day it’s just a bunch of dudes driving in circles for a couple of hours.
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