Intense racing drama ‘Rush’ one of the year’s best

File photo.
File photo.

Ron Howard is arguably the most diverse director working in Hollywood today. His works, which bring out profound character studies, range from quirky comedies to intense dramas. In spite of this diverse history, you may be surprised that “Rush” is Howard’s latest work.

A Formula One racing movie isn’t exactly an easy sell, especially when you don’t have a million dollar movie star at your disposal. However, Howard managed to bring the cast and crew together to create one of the most intense, character-driven (no pun intended) and rewarding movie I’ve seen this year.

“Rush” follows the true story of a competitive rivalry between racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Both men try to prove that they are the best there is, but have different strategies and motives behind their success.

Hunt mostly competes for the fun and games. “The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel,” he states early on in the movie, showing us his reckless and dangerous side. Hunt is a loose cannon, and he’ll do anything to feel alive and free.

Lauda is on the other side of things. Though he wants to be the best, racing is more of a job to him than an enjoyable hobby. He calculates everything down to a strict science and takes the sport more seriously than any other racer.

The relationship between these two men is fascinating to watch. The two different personalities fighting for the same thing give the audience a change in perspective throughout the story. We understand where each character is coming from and hope they’ll both find what they’re searching for on and off the racetrack.

The rivalry between Hunt and Lauda becomes an event. People came to the races to see them face off, paying no attention to anyone else. It was interesting to see how, even when they considered each other enemies, they still shared a mutual respect and used the other to better themselves.

The fact that there really isn’t a protagonist or an antagonist, but two characters who actually love and respect each other even in the heat of competition is what makes this film different.

You know you have a top notch cast when the interactions between the main characters are just as thrilling as the race scenes themselves. I looked forward to every scene where Hunt and Lauda meet up and start a tension-filled conversation about how one will best the other.

This was all thanks to the award-worthy performances of Hemsworth and Brühl. People know Hemsworth best for playing Thor, which, to be honest, is a role I never thought he’d break out of. But, with this role, he has proven himself to have some real acting chops. Never again will I look at him as just Thor.

Brühl, despite having a decent-sized role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” is still a bit of an unknown. However, playing Lauda is bound to change that. Brühl really gives his all in this film, making his egotistical character someone to care about. Expect a possible Oscar nomination coming his way this year.

Normally I wouldn’t spend time talking about the technical side of a film like this. When reviewing a character-heavy drama, people mainly care about the acting and script. But the racing scenes in this movie cannot be ignored. Everything was edited and shot to near perfection, giving us lots of close ups and quick cuts to get the audience involved in this race.

It took a little while to get into the action because the beginning of the movie wasn’t very race heavy. But those final two big races were some of the most intense scenes I’ve seen in a movie this year and I was left somewhat breathless.

When you see a movie directed by a man like Ron Howard, you can expect to care about everything on screen. He was able to do the impossible by making me care about the sport of Formula One Racing.

People constantly tell me how boring sports like NASCAR are and how people are uninterested in that world. But trust me when I say this: you will care about the movie “Rush.”

Not for the racing itself, but for what goes on behind the scenes of the races. The characters and script are full of life, conflict and determination. Because of this, you will also care about the racing.

“Rush” is one of the best films of 2013 and I encourage you to check it out. Racing fan or not, there is much to see here.

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