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Ron Howard takes a look at the fierce rivalry between Formula 1 racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda that captivated the racing world in the 1970s. Bouncing between the perspectives — and narration — of Hunt and Lauda, Rush offers an insider look at the commitment, passion and risk that goes into the high-octane sport.

The Players:

  • Director: Ron Howard
  • Writer: Peter Morgan
  • Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara
  • Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
  • Original music by: Hans Zimmer

The Plot:

Set in the golden, nostalgic hues of Europe, Rush follows cocksure English playboy James Hunt (Hemsworth) as he rises through the ranks to the top levels of Formula 1 racing. He butts heads again and again with the pragmatic and taciturn Austrian Niki Lauda (Bruhl), a racer with laser focus and a cold, mathematical approach to life. Their rivalry comes to a head during the ’76 season, when they both risk everything and Lauda ends up scarred for life.

The Good:

  • Feel the danger: Howard revels in his depictions of the races, and his enthusiasm comes through loud and clear. While the film seems to randomly choose which races to focus on and which to dismiss with title card summaries, when we get into the pit, the film earns its title.
  • Bruhl all the way: Fans of Goodbye Lenin and Inglorious Basterds are well aware of German actor Daniel Bruhl’s talents. He’s getting some fine exposure to mass audiences with Rush and The Fifth Estate, out later this year. Here, Bruhl steals what is being sold as Hemsworth’s movie by taking on the more psychologically interesting of the pair and not shying away from his rough edges. It’s mesmerizing.

The Bad:

  • Show, don’t tell: The script for Rush is bogged down by overactive, dueling narration from Hemsworth and Bruhl. Each audibly elbows the other out of the way by needlessly explaining the story that the visuals spell out perfectly. It almost feels like the voiceover was added later at the behest of nervous studio execs.
  • Ham-fisted metaphors: There is a point in the film where Howard cuts from two characters engaged in sexual intercourse to actual pistons within an engine pumping. That’s just tacky, Ron.

Overall:

Rush simultaneously over-complicates its story with unnecessary flash and dulls the audience with repetition. But it’s worth the ride just to see Bruhl and Hemsworth at play.

Rating: 6/10

Rush opens in limited theaters September 20 and nationwide September 27.

Photo Gallery:

Trailer:

Will you be seeing Rush this weekend?