Rush Review

Posted: November 25, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

RUSH-poster-new (1)

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

When I first heard Ron Howard would be directing Rush, I was immediately concerned. I like Howard as a director fine, but I questioned if he was the right choice to adapt the story of the amazing Canadian rock group. Then I found out Rush had nothing to do with the excellent band of the same name and any interest I had plummeted. The fact that most critics seemed to deem the film unsubstantial did little to raise my interest. Still, with it playing at my local theater for a very modest price and with nothing better to do, I decided to give the film a shot.
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The film follows the real rivalry of formula-one race car drivers Nicky Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). Both men start out in similar divisions and around the same time and move up at about the same pace. Despite these similarities, the two are very different in most areas. Nicky is a tactical person with a knack for building cars, but can be very cold to people. Hunt, on the other hand is a likable party-type who drinks a lot, smokes a lot, and sees himself as living life to the fullest. Rush focuses on the period of their lives in the mid-1970s went he rivalry was at it’s peak, and also explores what went on off the track in these men’s lives at the time.
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Rush focuses primarily on the relationship between James and Nicky, and this is also the film’s biggest strength. Both men are interesting and the script is wise to never make either the hero or villain. Instead both men are likable, but also very flawed and these flaws are focused on extensively. Lauda may be brilliant, but he’s so cold and arrogant with other people that he often comes off like a jerk. Hunt on the other hand is liked by almost everyone, but his self-destructive tendencies prove damaging to himself and others around him. The film is definitely at its best when these opposite personalities collide and watching their relationship evolve through the years is rewarding. Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth both give very good performances. Each embody their respective characters quite well and both bring a lot of charm to the screen. The main reason I saw Rush is for these two (Hemsworth is a rising talent and I’ve rooted for Bruhl since his underrated turn in Inglorious Basterds) so it was satisfying to see both men deliver very strong work.
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What ultimately convinced me to see Rush was interest in the lead actors. Chris Hemsworth is a pretty significant rising talent and I’ve been rooting for Bruhl since his underrated turn in Inglorious Basterds. Sure enough, both men deliver very strong performances, creating interesting people and embody their roles quite well. What’s great is that while Bruhl and Hemsworth both bring enough charm to make Lauda and Hunt likable, the film doesn’t shy away from each man’s more negative traits. Quite the opposite in fact; the aforementioned negative traits are focused on a lot. Lauda may be brilliant, but he’s so cold and arrogant with other people that he often comes off like a jerk. Hunt on the other hand is liked by almost everyone, but his self-destructive tendencies prove damaging to himself and others around him. The film is definitely at its best when these opposite personalities collide and watching their relationship evolve through the years is rewarding. The film also wisely never turns either man into the hero or villain.
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Rush is written by Peter Morgan, a man most known for films like The Queen and Frost/Nixon. His work here is kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, he treats the two leads very well making both interesting but still flawed and the story is generally interesting throughout. However he runs into some problems too. First, I think a lot of the dialogue spells out the themes for the audience, is especially unnecessary given how simple they really are. But the biggest problem is simply the pace. Rush moves as fast as the formula-one races it depicts, but this can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, there’s never a dull moment and there’s always something going on. I appreciate this, but the drawback is a lot of plot and character details aren’t really as developed as they should be. Characters like James and Nicky’s wives or the other people in their lives seem to come and go as the movie pleases without being clearly defined. As a result, certain moments with these people don’t really have the impact they should. I had a similar problem with this year’s Ender’s Game. Both films seem so concerned with hitting all of the story’s beats that they sacrifice how well the beats are hit.
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Ron Howard’s direction is solid here. He gets good performances out of the actors, the 1970s look is apparent while still feeling natural, the races are well put together, and he makes some interesting choices. I don’t think all of his choices work, some of the cinematography choices at points felt off to me, but on the whole it’s a solid effort. Hans Zimmer also provides a score which is effective in the film, if a little by the numbers. One final word on the races; while they are solid throughout the film, the last three really stand out as being good.
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Overall, I can see why Rush was dismissed and forgotten so quickly. While the film does a lot of things very well, it doesn’t really excel in any major areas. Still, it’s a shame this film did slip by because it’s actually pretty good. While I do have my problems with it, the film is strong in the areas it needs to be strong in and proves to be an entertaining work. This isn’t a film which will be showing up much (if at all) in the awards circuit, but that’s okay. Rush is a very respectable and solid piece of adult entertainment, and sometimes that’s enough.
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B
Comments
  1. One of my favourites of the year, personally. I thought the acting was great and Ron Howard did a fantastic job of nailing the sound and speed of F1.

  2. moviebuff801 says:

    One of my favorites of the year so far as well…as you already know. ;)

  3. brikhaus says:

    Nice review, sounds like a good movie, but the trailer did absolutely nothing for me. Not to mention the guy on the right in the poster looks like a mouth-breather. Not sure I can handle this one.

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