Sports movies, especially ones about auto racing excluding Talladega Nights, usually stink. When director Ron Howard took a shot at a story about a pair of F1 drivers from the '70s, my fear was this was to be a giant stinker.
Alas, Howard knows how to make a good movie and his new effort with long time producer buddy Brian Grazer "Rush" is a major score. The film is scheduled for Sept. 27 release.
The following is a deliberate, self-serving attempt for the film's promoters to use a line from my review: "Mac Engel of The Big Mac Blog says 'Rush' is a sexy high octane thrill ride with an unexpected dose of humanity!"
Starring Chris Hemsworth as British driver James Hunt and Daniel Bruhl as Austrian driver Niki Lauda, Howard does what he does best - focuses on the characters and this mostly true story while using cool F1 cars, pretty scenery, and pretty people, to accentuate everything.
The story: Both Lauda and Hunt came from wealthy families, but wanted to enter driving as a profession. Hunt was a party animal who pushed his life, and his car, to the limits and was everything that Lauda. The latter was careful, all about precision, logic, angles and tactics to the extreme. Everything was bottom line to Lauda, while Hunt was living every second with little regard to the day after.
Lauda was the better tactial driver, but Hunt's willingness to drive over the edge and risk everything make him an equal.
The movie focuses mostly on their push for the 1976 F1 title, and the painful and daring extremes each would go to win including Lauda's awful crash in Germany that left him permanently scarred, and nearly killed him.
The people: Lauda, played well Bruhl by as the black and white operating, has no clue how to live other than to just do his job. Everything is work. He eventually has a love interest (Alexandria Maria Lara), but even that is a business transaction. He is aware of how cold he is, and makes no apologies.
The scene stealer is Hemsworth as the impossibly charming, irreverant and partying F1 driver who easily lures women while drinking and abusing drugs when he is not racing. His wife, played by Olivia Wilde, is pretty good as the model who eventually tires of the whole thing but can't stop loving him. Their relationship is a car wreck that is too fun not to watch.
Racing scenes: Plenty, and remarkably authentic looking. The producers apparently spent gobs of money on both CGI, and the classic F1 cars to recreate the racing scenes. The movie was shot in the UK, Austria and Germany. No expense was spared to make this film look real.
Eye candy: Plenty. Hemsworth is so good looking is scary. Maria Lara is major German eye candy, and Wilde is a professional model.
Should you see it: Yes. The big screen, especially with the giant surround sound, is a nice addition. You do not have to be a racing fan, or care a lick about F1, to enjoy this film. The movie is about people, and Howard's direction makes you care about a rivarly without picking sides.
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