Starring: Daniel Bruhl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Stephen Mangan
Directed by: Ron Howard
Synopsis: A re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
As seems customary nowadays, when this film was released over here in Britain there were documentaries on TV about the same thing, the Formula One race season of 1976 and the terrible crash suffered by Niki Lauda. I did know of the events depicted before because my Dad is an F1 fan, but it didn’t take away the impact when I saw the real events in that documentary. Similarly, watching the documentary first didn’t take away the impact of this film, which I thought was superb.
I’ll state now that I’m not a motor racing fan, in fact I can’t even stand cars full stop. But there is something about this story that goes beyond the sport. If it hadn’t happened in real life someone would surely have written it anyway, it really is that dramatic.
The performances, having watched the documentary, are all spot on. Both Bruhl and Hemsworth are fantastic. There are a few famous faces in supporting roles but they don’t really get a look in. This is all about the two rival drivers, and rightly so. The race scenes are shot brilliantly, giving you a real adrenaline rush, and a few moments of wincing horror when you look at the weather conditions these guys used to drive in! Wow, it was dangerous! The human, dramatic elements are all played well, and there are some fairly disturbing scenes of Lauda in hospital (lung vacuum anyone?!) which had me turning away.
Any film that is about a sport that isn’t well known in the States (F1 rather than motor racing in general) that achieves as much praise and box office as Rush has had, fully deserves it in my book. Well done Ron Howard for making me enjoy a film about motor racing (apart from Cars of course!).
Footnote: I also take this opportunity to wish Michael Schumacher a speedy recovery from his recent accident. What more perfect day to get well than his birthday today?