Film Review: Rush


British Formula 1 driver and playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is aiming to clinch the F1 title, but he must overcome Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) to do so. However, their increasingly intense rivalry has devastating consequences both on and off the track.

Sports films are always difficult to pull off, especially when the sport in question isn’t that popular in one of your main target markets. That’s the challenge Ron Howard was faced with when he signed up for Rush. Here in the UK, Formula One has a pretty large following, but in the US Nascar is the king of track and, therefore, Howard needed to make the film accessible on a human level, as well as making the racing exciting and authentic. It could easily have been a car crash (pun most definitely intended), but instead it’s got a good shout at being the quintessential racing film.

Howard has admitted that prior ti getting involved in Rush he knew nothing of F1, which makes his achievement all the more spectacular. Capturing the feel and thrill of F1 isn’t easy but everything from the speed of the cars to the pit lane urgency to the cinema-shaking roar of the engines is present and correct. There’s a Hans Zimmer score in there somewhere apparently, but the only sound you’ll likely remember is the V6 engines of McLarens, Ferraris, etc, melting your ears off. Mention should also go to Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill for their quite brilliant editing.

Off the track, both lead characters are wonderfully portrayed. Hunt and Lauda are polar opposites, with the former being larger than life and wreckless, with a penchant for living all aspects of his life at 100mph, not just on the track. Lauda, on the other hand is calculated and measured. He works on percentages rather than passion, knowing exactly how his car works and prefers an early night rather than a life of vice. These personalities aren’t subtly played out; everything is spelled out pretty plainly, which might be a little simple for some, but still works superbly. Chris Hemsworth is perfectly smug and arrogant as Hunt, his annoyingly good looks making him the ideal choice for the role, whilst Daniel Brühl’s performance as Niki Lauda could be an outside chance for an Oscar nomination.

Creating a human element to the film does require some creative license, meaning there are some inevitable historical inaccuracies, although the majority of audiences won’t likely pick up on these. There are also certain scenes that feel as if they’re invented solely for dramatic purposes, which although still work reasonably well for the most part, do make you question their authenticity in a film based on real events.

Whilst the film might still be a more difficult sell to non-F1 fans, there’s a huge amount to enjoy even if you don’t know your Silverstones from your Nürburgrings. Howard has done exactly what he needed to do, perfectly marrying the on and off-track to create a drama that’s tense, touching and breathless from the starting grid to the checkered flag.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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59 thoughts on “Film Review: Rush

  1. Mark Walker says:

    Excellent review, Chris. I haven’t heard a bad word about this film yet. I’m not Rob Howard’s biggest fan but I’ll definitely be checking this out.

  2. Great review, Chris. I am not a huge fun of sports movies either, but Rush looks really different and interesting. I’ve not seen it yet, but your review made me confident that it can be one of best films of 2013 for me.

  3. Hunter says:

    Nice review! Hopefully I’ll be seeing this tonight if all goes to plan!
    Though I’m not a racing fan by any means, I’d be more worried about the oversimplification of the characters with them being polar opposites. It has the potential to get real old real fast. I’ve mostly good things however and I’m still excited to see the film.

    • Thanks Melissa 🙂
      There is a certain amount of that, the fire and ice personalities of Hunt and Lauda are the basis of the whole thing really and it’s brought up throughout, but I think the performances are strong enough to forgive that. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts if you do check it out.

  4. theipc says:

    Nice work today (and all days). Doesn’t seem like something I’d be into but you never know.

  5. noisynoodle says:

    That’s a lot of pigeons… can it really come that close to the 5 pigeon (IMHO) Senna doco?

  6. Gene says:

    I had thought Hemsworth was a strange casting for an F1 driver, as they are usually smaller in stature. But, sounds like he did a fine job and maybe the physical prowess doesn’t get in the way in this movie. Thanks for the review!

  7. karamelkinema says:

    dead on Chris, i’m a non F1 fan yet i found the film to be exhilarating! I just watched it earlier today and throughly impressed by the look as well as the acting. Brühl performance was captivating for me! I really had a great time!

  8. CMrok93 says:

    Does everything a good sports movie should do, even without throwing in the numerous cliches and ham-handed lines we’ve come to expect with them by now. Nice review Chris.

  9. Loved Rush however I don’t know how to put the two wee dots over Bruhl’s name using my tablet 😦

  10. ruth says:

    I was planning on seeing this last weekend but didn’t work out, so hopefully we’ll see it this Friday. I was curious to see how Chris Hemsworth fare outside of his role as Thor, sounds like he’s ok but not great. Bruhl on the other one is the one to watch for, he was great in Inglourious Basterds. Great review!

    • Thank you Ruth! I’d be really interested to see what you thought of this. Ooh but be warned there are a few scenes featuring medical procedures that are really rather uncomfortable! Hemsworth is pretty decent, I thought. It’s not a massively memorable performance but it works.

  11. Nick Powell says:

    your final sentence wraps it up beautifully. howard tip-toes the fine line of race movie and drama and combines the two to create one hell of a character study. i was blown away by how much i love this movie. good review. bruhl better get an oscar nom.

  12. A car race movie? not for me I was thinking, but this is like the fifth review (and the best one of course) 😉 singing this films praises. Gonna have to try and give this one a watch.

    • Of course it’s the best! 🙂

      See, you could argue that this isn’t really a car race movie at all. It’s based on real events, so it’s quite conceivable you could already know how the racing parts turn out. It’s all about the relationships between the drivers really.

  13. keith7198 says:

    Nice review Chris! For some reason I haven’t been able to get excited about this one. But you’ve swayed me a bit. Good stuff bro!

  14. Splendid work Chris. You had a slightly more positive reaction to it then I did but it’s still got its moments of real punch.

  15. ckckred says:

    Nice review. I was skeptical on Rush since I feel Ron Howard’s a hit or miss director, but I’ll have to give this a watch.

  16. Tom says:

    Fantastic review Chris. Summed it up perfectly and it seems we see pretty much eye-to-eye on the film as a whole. I think I came in a bit more partial to Ron Howard but thank god my high demands were indeed met!

  17. Beer Movie says:

    Nice review man. This film is getting mad love everywhere so definitely keen to check it out. Think it opens here tomorrow.

  18. Zoë says:

    Awesome review! People keep singing the praises for this… maybe I should just check it out sometime!

  19. sati says:

    This sounds awesome – like Frost/Nixon (which I love) with all the rivalry and based on true story factor except with car races instead of politics. I’m definitely going to see this one.

  20. Tyson Carter says:

    Schumacher is the greatest driver, man I’d love a proper film about him. With Gosling or Leto in the lead role. Perfect 🙂

    • He was an awesome driver, I agree. But I dunno how interesting the film would be. Like a film about Vettel; great driver but not the most interesting of people. Schumacher might be more interesting than I know, though!

      • Tyson Carter says:

        Look at all his rivalries though!! Senna hated him, Mansell, Hill, basically everyone! LOL would be great! Anyway, this is not the time or place for me to pitch a movie. Sorry. Great review as always, I may pick this up on blu ray although this era wasnt my favourite for racing.

      • Pitch away sir! Just as long as I can have a part in it 🙂 That’s true about his rivalries, although then I guess it’d be quite similar to this. This wasn’t my era of racing either, I didn’t know a massive amount the drivers but I still dug it.

  21. vinnieh says:

    Excellent review, been hearing some amazing things about this one.

  22. JustMeMike says:

    Great film. Excellent review.

    I had no first hand experience with Formula One as sport prior to seeing this film. I did have some hand experience because I made it a point to look at McQueen in LeMans, and the gang of stars in Grand Prix before seeing Rush.

    I thought it was an excellent film and I praised it in my own review. I even gave it the same rating, 4.5 as you did.

  23. Thanks Mike! That’s the great thing about this. I think you can enjoy it whether you are an F1 nut or have no knowledge of the sport. It’s all about the drivers and their relationship. Glad to hear you liked it as much as I did!

  24. table9mutant says:

    Great review. 🙂 Man I loved this film! And not just because Hemsworth is so annoyingly HOT. 😉 Enjoyed this film more than any other so far this year.

  25. Popcorn Nights says:

    Damn, I can’t stand Formula 1 but the positives you mention (particularly the acting) makes me wonder whether I should put that aside and watch it. Nice review Chris.

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