Rush (2013)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on September 29, 2013 @

Rush is a slick movie based on an actual rivalry in Formula One racing in the 1970s.

The two fierce competitors were England's James Hunt and Austria's Niki Lauda.

Director Ron Howard, screenwriter Peter Morgan, and actors Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Bruhl as Lauda bring the conflict to often vivid life.

Rush hits a bumpy patch and skids through three possible endings until it finally comes to an agreeable conclusion.

Howard's forte has never been endings. His Academy Award winning A Beautiful Mind (2001) wound up with a generic crowd applause scene as John Nash was receiving an honor.

Since Rush is about the power and fury of racing, its natural ending might have been when Lauda makes his return to the track after a horrendous accident. Most Hollywood films would have ended with this climax.

But no, Peter Hunt is still around. The second potential ending might be the crucial race in Japan. But it's the kind of scene that stalls. It's sort of hard to root, when we don't care who wins. It's especially hard when one racer is out of the race, and another is trying for third. "We're number three, we're number three."

I realize it was important historically, but it's anti-climactic. Writer Peter Morgan lost his focus in the rain. There's a lot of cars splashing through water in Rush.

Fortunately the actual men are featured in the final ending, and that brings reality back into place.

Chris Hemsworth is compelling as the engaging, charismatic "bad boy" Hunt. And ladies, he takes off his shirt in the first five minutes of the movie. And he flashes a smile that melts the rubber off tires.

Daniel Bruhl has a more difficult role as the stern, at times lugubrious Lauda, but he acquits himself with dogged credibility.

Lauda might be compared to Ron Howard himself - the cautious director in wild, wild Hollywood.

There is an essential decency to all Howard's movies, and Rush is no different. Even though Hunt is a bad boy, he is a decent bad boy.

Controversy is down-played in Rush. Hunt's wife Suzy (Olivia Wilde) and her relationship with Richard Burton is mostly a chance for some clever dialogue for Hunt.

And cursing is soft-pedaled.

Though most women's roles are limited, Alexanda Maria Lara, as Lauda's love Marlene, has more substance than Wilde.

Hans Zimmer works overtime crashing musical instruments on his score for the film.

As expected, the racing's power, speed, and motion are very effective.

Morgan treads lightly through the emotional and physical damage. He does provide an occasional welcome note of humor, such as when Lauda and Marlene have to hitch-hike in Italy, and are picked up by two racing enthusiasts.

In Rush one character says, "Men love women. Even more than that, men love cars."

Rush raises the question, "How much do men love movies about cars?"

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