Rush

Rush is loud and fast and tremendous entertainment.

High praise coming from one who, in spite of what one of the characters in the film utters as a universal truth, is a man who doesn’t like cars.

It tells the story of the Formula One 1970s rivalry between Austrian genius by way of scientific engine redesign and risk analysis Niki Lauda; and British superstar, playboy and dicer-with-death James Hunt. The film builds towards a climactic brush with death (I’ll avoid spoilers here) and its aftermath. It’s an old-fashioned rivalry story in a conveniently foreign time.

I am a sports fan but not especially fond of Formula One. As I said, I don’t like cars so there’s a limited appeal to watching them drive the same course several times for two hours. I may watch occasionally but it’s not something I choose to engage with. I knew this story, though. I grew up in a sports-following house in the UK, so I knew it as much by osmosis as anything else. In that context, I’m a far from ideal market for this film – not particularly interested in the sport, but knowing how it ends.

Add to that Ron Howard films tend to … well … at their best they entertain and divert but rarely, if ever, touch me. I see him as solid, not exciting; as good, but not great; as thinking but not thoughtful. Rush ticks all those boxes – the performances in the leads from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl are good; the support cast fade in and out of attention obediently and effectively. There’s a pretence at trying to understand the psychology of rivalry in the context of the risk of death. It’s touched on throughout the film and finds an awkward crescendo in a well-played by unconvincingly scripted exchange between the two leads in an airplane hangar. The script all round, by Peter Morgan, is very shallow; a mile from the depth and insight and economy of his other work like The Last King Of Scotland or The Damned United.

So much for the faults. It’s great fun, it’s exciting and shocking. The race scenes are brilliantly staged and shot; the noise is tangible, the adrenaline drinkable. It passes so fast, so engagingly, so wholeheartedly that you don’t have time to miss the depths. You’re having too much fun in the shallows.

Off the big screen the film’s power will, I suspect shrink and deficiencies will shine brighter. See it where it belongs and enjoy it for what it is.

I rated this film 7/10 on imdb.com and 3.5/5 on rottentomatoes.com

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