This dramatic portrayal of the intense 1970s rivalry between race drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt captures the contrasts between the two champions.
Director: Ron Howard, Ringo Lam
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Calder, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Alistair Petrie
Information Page: https://www.newonnetflix.info/info/70253165
After watching the Netflix series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive“, and the recent death of Nikki Lauda, a Formula 1 driver who I grew up hearing great stories about, I decided that now might be a good time to watch “Rush”. I was however, a bit worried that the story of the infamous 1976 season would be very Hollywood-ised and not true to fact.
“Rush” centres on the battle for the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship and the rivalry between the Austrian ‘Professor’ Nikki Lauda (a.k.a. Rat Face) and the British playboy James Hunt. The film is nicely paced, and we are introduced to both characters through their own narrative and scenes that leave the watcher in no doubt as to their background and philosophies on life.
Lauda and Hunt are first seen in competition in 1970 as young wannabe’s racing in Formula 3 at Crystal Palace. Whilst I know that they did first race each other in Formula 3 I’m not sure if this meeting actually happened or if director Ron Howard used a bit of poetic licence here to give us a bit of background information on the rivalry.
After that we are given a whistle stop journey between 1973 (when Hunt came into F1) to 1975. We are shown the dangerous nature of F1 at the time with the Francois Cevert accident at Watkins Glen in gory detail, although this does not seem gratuitous, but necessary to bring home just how unforgiving the sport was back then (of the top 12 points scorers in 1976, F1 cars were to claim 3 lives, 1 ended up in a wheelchair and 1 had his career ended by a leg-crunching crash).
We are then taken to the gripping telling of the 1976 Formula 1 season. While not sharing the same spectacle of Howard’s other ‘too unbelievable to be true’ film Apollo 13, Rush tells a story which would be just too unbelievable in terms of human bravery and personal destiny for any fictional story to be given credence. It’s told in a way, which will be enough to hold the unfamiliar or casual viewer’s attention with a firm grip to see how the different personalities handle the pressures of life both on and off the track and how rising to the top takes it’s toll on these two polar-opposite, real-life gladiators of the race track.
The casting for Rush is superb, Aussie Chris Hemsworth does an excellent job on public schoolboy James Hunt, while Daniel Brühl both sounds and looks frighteningly like the Austrian. The attention to detail doesn’t stop at the casting for the people involved, because, although the tracks are not the actual ones (for understandable reasons) the cars, the helmets, the sponsors are all authentic, and it really does feel like it’s happening in the 1970’s. The crash is scarily realistic too, and is not much different than the real crash, it’s not been embellished for the sake of a good scene in fact if anything it has been slightly toned down.
Formula 1 fans may have an issue with the British Grand Prix result – the real life events that occurred in the 1976 race have been overly simplified; probably due to running time. However, this is a film and not a documentary, and as such doesn’t only need to appeal to Formula 1 fans.
The camera work is spectacular, none less so than with some very creative angles of the beautifully filmed on-track action. The brief in-helmet camera shots are inspired, giving you a glimpse of the drivers world. CGI work will be spotted by the keen-eyed, but you have to consider that without it that there are certain scenes involving priceless period machinery (the sound of a Cosworth DFV firing up, made me wish I’d got surround sound at home) that would be just impossible to film as accurately as they were depicted here with real machinery. As a result, they are able to use the CGI sparingly and to good effect.
All in all this is a great film that can be enjoyed whether or not you’re a fan of motorsports, as it is not only a car film, but also a story of relationships and overcoming life’s obstacles.
Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!