Film: "Rush"; Cast: Daniel Bruhl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara; Director: Ron Howard; Rating: ***1/2 - intense, thrilling.
"To be a champion, it's more than just being quick. It is understanding and delivering the whole picture". This is the key message conveyed in director Roh Howard's "Rush", which is based on a true story.
At the very beginning, a voiceover reveals - "Of the 25 racers that participate in the Formula One races every year, two die". What a morbid way to start!
Set in the backdrop of Formula One racing, the film documents the personality conflict and rivalry of two famous racers Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth).
Both with diametrically opposite characteristics; James Hunt is the charismatic and reckless English playboy, whereas Niki Lauda is the studious introvert with German Austrian upbringing, who takes calculated risks. The only thing common between the two is their passion for motor racing. The film exposes their intense competitiveness and their mutual admiration for each other.
Spanning over seven years, from 1970 to 1977, the film captures their career and personal life, which includes; numerous F1 races across the globe, their marriages and a crash that has leaves Niki with a burnt face.
The screenplay by Morgan (though it starts and ends with Niki's point of view) during its course, oscillates between the squeaky exaggerated dual narrations of both racers. Nevertheless, the dialogues between the two racers are crisp, curt and razor sharp sparkling with wit.
It is a treat to watch Lauda dismiss off Hunt saying: "I don't mind being called a rat. And rats are intelligent with great survival instincts."
On another instance, their repartee gets a chuckle when Hunt dismisses Lauda with, "You kill the sport with your calculated risk". To which Lauda replies, "You English, participate with the attitude, 'prepared to die', is actually being a loser".
As for the performances, Hemsworth with his blonde hair and dashing swagger portrays James Hunt as the flamboyant racer to the hilt. His retching before every race is needlessly dramatised. He gains the audience's sympathy in the scene where, after the press conference, filled with remorse and guilt; he bashes a journalist, who puts forth an absurd question to Lauda.
He clinches this scene with his brilliant performance, immediately raising him several notches in the eyes of the audience.
On the other hand, Bruhl as the rough, hard-headed Lauda is initially repulsive, but over time with his complex and moving performance, he is likable. By the end, you begin to understand him.
Both the ladies have nothing much to do in the film. Olivia Wilde as Suzy Miller, the model wife of Hunt and Alexandra Maria Lara as Marlene Lauda, are wasted as the director has not explored the personal lives of the racers in detail.
The production quality of the film is sleek. The smooth edits and sound play an integral part in the film, especially the sound design of the screeching wheels adds to the adrenaline rush. The score by Hans Zimmer is perfectly suited with director Howard's style.
Visually, the racing sequences are, for the most part, astonishing. Howard has brilliantly and seamlessly managed to integrate cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle's frames with the highly saturated racing scenes of the famous Formula One courses.
Overall, "Rush" is an engaging biopic with intense performances that will thrill you even if you are not an F1 buff.