BR: Rush (2013)

April 19, 2014 | By


Rush2013_BrFilm: Excellent

Transfer: Excellent / Extras: Excellent

Label: Universal

Region: A, B

Released:  January 28, 2014

Genre:  Drama / Car Racing

Synopsis: Engaging drama chronicling the vicious rivalry between Formula One racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the 1970s.

Special Features:  Deleted Scenes / 2 making-of featurettes: “Race for the Checkered Flag” in 6 parts + “The Real Story of Rush” in 3 parts / Profile: “Ron Howard: A Director’s Approach” / Digital Copy + Ultraviolet





“We were big rivals, especially at the end of the [1976] season, but I respected him because you could drive next to him—2 centimeters, wheel-by-wheel, for 300 kilometers or more—and nothing would happen. He was a real top driver at the time.” — Niki Lauda (snipped from Wikipedia entry)


Tackling a car racing film isn’t easy – not necessarily due to the logistics of mounting a convincing drama about Formula 1 auto racing, but staying away from the lure of CGI effects in place of real cars and stunt driving, and risking the ire of racing enthusiasts who demand a high level of realism.

What’s remarkable about Rush is although the racing scenes really don’t evolve into extended montages until the end, the drama as scripted by Peter Morgan (Frost / Nixon, The Queen) is rock solid, especially the dialogue, which captures the attitude and nastiness of rival racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl).

Morgan’s witty and extremely pointed dialogue quickly establishes the characters and their emerging relationships and rivalries amid the many snappy montages that compress the film’s early races, and it’s not until the finale that car fans can enjoy a generally complete racing sequence.  By that point the nastiness between the two men has shifted to mutual respect, making their final duel on the track quite powerful, since only one could be crowned champion.

Hemsworth and Bruhl are very strong as the over-confident geniuses who came from very different backgrounds, yet excelled using their remarkable skills & instincts, and benefited from strong teams willing to support their powerful personalities. That neither racer is an especially likable person makes it especially tough for audiences to accept the pair, and yet through an intricate web work of scenes and smart dialogue  it doesn’t take long warm up to their combustible personas. Both Hemsworth and Bruhl fitted themselves snugly into their roles as womanizer and severe anal retentive, respectively, and as the finale reveals, the actors look remarkably like their real-life counterparts. (Hunt died in 1993 at the ridiculously young age of 45, but Lauda appears in a short video clip prior to the End Credits.)

The supporting roles – namely, the wives + the pretty women that habitually surrounded Hunt – are filled by solid actors, especially Alexandra Maria Lara (Downfall, Naked) who plays Lauda’s long-standing wife.

Howard’s knack for making manipulative dramas is present – there’s no doubt Rush is structured to affect audiences so they too are close to cheering and tearing in the final reel – but it’s a really well-made drama where the characters transcend (if not altogether avoid) the clichés and ridiculous indulgences that made Sylvester Stallone’s Driven (2001) such a laughable yet loopy guilty pleasure; this is arguably the ode to Forumla 1 racing Stallone wanted to create, but simply lacked the finesse to write, and the balls to risk making.

Hans Zimmer’s score has a retro feel which blends the rallying heroic chords and harmonics of Days of Thunder (1990) with the modernism of Inception (2010); the main theme is oft-used, but Zimmer manages to maintain a fine line between celebrating the victories of the two rivals – on the track, and as respectful colleagues – and succumbing to Howard’s need to force tears from audiences using every manipulative trick in his director’s manual.

Rush is ostensibly a sports drama, and while it may lack the epic and detailed racing sequences of John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix (1966), the editing is effectively impressionistic and unpretentious – unsurprising, given editors Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill have edited most of Howard’s prior blockbusters. That respect for continuity is neatly matched with Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography, which evokes the high contrast, grainy look of vintage racing documentaries, and the harsh colours of 16mm film stock.

Released around the same time as Rush is Paul Crowder’s lauded documentary 1 (2013) , which features interviews and archival footage of Formula 1’s Golden Age.



© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



External References:
IMDB  —  Soundtrack Album  —  Composer Filmography
Vendor Search Links: — —

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

Comments are closed.