Win­ner avoids for­mula

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

Rush.

RON Howard’s Rush is a For­mula One rac­ing drama of al­most ir­re­sistible for­ward mo­men­tum. The on-track ac­tion is blis­ter­ing, the film­mak­ing sure-footed (even as cars fish­tail into cat­a­strophic crashes) and the char­ac­ters larger than life.

It avoids the stock plot­ting that turns most sports movies into bland emo­tional pick-me-ups.

It’s one of the best films of Ron Howard’s ca­reer, cer­tainly the most sur­pris­ing. Who knew that this com­pe­tent crafts­man had such a fu­ri­ously ex­cit­ing, sex-drenched story in him?

By grant­ing equal time to two his­tor­i­cal fig­ures, devil-may-care English golden boy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his dark, cal­cu­lat­ing Aus­trian ri­val Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), the film turns their rac­ing rivalry into a col­li­sion be­tween di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed per­son­al­i­ties.

Hemsworth is al­most as glam­orous a demi-god here as he is in Thor movies.

Bruhl, his ro­dent-faced ri­val, seems like a cen­tral cast­ing vil­lain. He’s an ob­nox­ious know-it-all, dou­bly ir­ri­tat­ing be­cause he’s al­most al­ways right.

Don’t de­cide too quickly who to root for. The au­di­ence’s sym­pa­thies shift as fast as a racer ne­go­ti­at­ing a tight curve.

The shrewd script by Peter Mor­gan ( Frost/Nixon, The Last King of Scot­land, The Queen) stresses the par­al­lels in the men’s lives.

Each came from a fam­ily that dis­ap­proved of high­risk sports. Each man is petu­lant and child­ish. Hunt was a cal­lous play­boy, Lauda coldly in­dif­fer­ent to his wife. Each is will­ing to put his life at risk for a jolt of adrenalin and adu­la­tion.

They’re deeply self­ish, giv­ing lit­tle thought to the ef­fect their risky ca­reers have on friends and fam­i­lies. The vir­ile, im­pul­sive ex­tro­vert and the Brit driver James Hunt (left) and Aus­trian Niki Lauda be­fore the start of the Ja­pan Grand Prix For­mula One race in 1976 chilly, me­thod­i­cal in­tro­vert are kin­dred spir­its, push­ing each other to greater glory and ever nearer dis­as­ter. It’s a tes­ta­ment to the ac­tors’ abil­i­ties that we find them par­tially sym­pa­thetic all the same.

There are clumsy pas­sages here. We re­ally don’t need a de­bauch­ery mon­tage set to Bowie’s Fame to grasp that Hunt was pub­lic­ity-drunk, or a scene of Lauda painfully press­ing his crash-scarred head into a rac­ing hel­met to un­der­stand that he was ob­ses­sively com­pet­i­tive.

Still, Rush red-lines the spec­ta­cle and ex­hil­a­ra­tion of the wildly event­ful mid-’70s For­mula One cir­cuit, while de­liv­er­ing some­thing more com­plex and grat­i­fy­ing than a stock un­der­dog story.

Rush opens to­day.

Chris Hemsworth as play­boy James Hunt (left) and Daniel Bruhl (right, in car) as his F1 ri­val, the metic­u­lous Niki Lauda, in a scene from Ron Howard’s

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