Rush is high-octane, high-energy, loud and exciting. It is also marvelously entertaining as well as engrossing. If you think auto racing is dull – you know, endless laps with the same repetitive turns and straightaways surrounded by huge looming grandstands – then you are thinking of the Indy 500.

In Europe, Formula One racing has a much stronger presence than it does in the USA. But what is key is that while the roads are level in some places, they rise and fall in other places and have crazy turns like hairpins, tight corners, and slow arching bends, along with various chicane turns that require drastic drops in speed. No, Formula One is anything but boring.

In Ron Howard’s Rush, he’s going to put you behind the wheel, inside the engine, on the various pit rows, as well as placing you into bedrooms and board rooms. This film is based on the real life story of two premium race drivers who battled tooth and nail for much of the 1976 racing season.

One is James Hunt, a British party animal with extraordinary driving skills, who was more than willing to put his life on the line in each and every race. The other is Niki Lauda, an Austrian, a scion to a large family fortune who walked away from all of that to pursue his dream which was to be a champion race car driver. He was precise, and so very knowledgeable about the risks as well as the best ways to set up a car.

He didn’t care for the flash and sizzle of Hunt’s lifestyle. Lauda much preferred the companionship of his mechanics. While Hunt would be out on the town looking for a new playmate each night (his motto was Sex: The Breakfast of Champions), Lauda was often in the mechanics shop discussing the intricate fine tuning necessary to put a race car in the best shape it could be.

In one neat moment asks the mechanics if they had tried making the parts out magnesium. The blank look on their faces told us that they had never even heard of magnesium That’s how involved Lauda was.

Lauda calculated everything in advance. He was called risk averse by some, but Lauda’s mantra was that he wasn’t there to make friends, he was there to win races.

Chris Hemsworth plays James Hunt. Most of us know Hemsworth as Thor, from the Marvel Comics films. Here, his character hasn’t a lot of depth to it, but what he’s got in spades – is the will to win. Hemsworth does a good job of delivering the proper amount of arrogance and charm to make you root for him.

Daniel Brühl portrays Niki Lauda. And his Lauda is not a likable man. Not only did Brühl give him the swagger which stemmed from not only being the best driver on the planet, but also being the smartest guy in whatever room he was in. When Hunt called Lauda a rat, Lauda defended rats by pointing out how smart they were, and how they had such great survival instincts. Brühl as an actor, gave a remarkable performance as a man you wanted to root against, but some how you found that it was just as fulfilling to root for him.

Writer Peter Morgan penned the screenplay, and it worked fine for me. I think a key element to describe it is that in this film – less is more. When the script called for racing scenes, Morgan kept his characters silent, and allowed Director Ron Howard to work his visual magic along with his Director of Cinematography Anthony Dod Mantle, who won an Oscar in 2008 for his work on Slumdog Millionaire.

But for me, what I appreciated most was the pacing and the energy. I must give a shout out to Hans Zimmer’s score, and the excellent film editing by the team of Mike Hill and Dan Hanley. Watching a film about auto-racing should be exciting. But it can be that way because what we watched was exciting in its own right, or because of the way the film was edited. Trust me, the film was exciting and will leave you amazed., and I mean both visuals and the pulsing music. Which means I must give a shout out the Sound Editing as well. The whine of the engines, the sounds of the exhaust escaping through the pipes were just superb, and add to that the continual snippets of the race calls made by the track announcers – it all blended in so well.

If there is one small gripe, it can be that Morgan’s script didn’t give the two female leads much to work with. Olivia Wilde played Suzy Miller who would marry Hunt, and while she looked wonderful as the beautiful model who caught James Hunt’s eye, there wasn’t a courtship. They met, They married. Almost that quickly.

Lauda’s wife Marlene was played by Alexandra Maria Lara. For most of the film, following when they met and their wedding at City Clerk’s office, she was only asked to watch the races and react. it certainly helped that she was beautiful, but she was mostly an adjunct to Lauda.

Overall I will heartily recommend the film and give it a score of four point five out of five. Rush is well worth seeing in a theater, as the sound and audio in your home will not equal the theater’s sound system. I am not sure if this is Howard’s best film ever, but certainly it is his best film since A Beautiful Mind in 2001. Moreover, at this juncture of the year which is about to be 3/4s done, I will call Rush one of the best films of the year.

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