In high school one of my friends was a car nut. She and I were born on the same day and within the same hour, alike in many ways but different in this one. I drove a beat-up hand-me-down Toyota well into 6-figure miles, she drove a pimped-out, mid-70’s Impala with a custom paint job, $3000 stereo and hydraulic lifts. She bought it used and non-functional, did her voodoo car magic and would later enter it and win prizes at car shows. Later in life she married a race car driver, a hobby she happily embraced.
Something about the need for speed and danger.
This film, Rush, a biography of two Formula One racers, reminded me of her. I didn’t know much about Formula One and I knew absolutely nothing about James Hunt and Niki Lauda, the two racers who, in the 1970’s, would go to unimaginable extremes to win. Facing probable death from one slightly imprecise decision was just the training-wheels fear to overcome to get to the real fear – losing. The film depicts the two as on-track enemies, off-track friends, one using the other’s success as motivation to become better. Lauda, who makes an appearance at the end of the film, admits Hunt was one of the few men he respected and the only one he envied.
Chris Hemsworth stows his Thor hammer away and does quite well as James Hunt, playboy race car driver extraordinaire. His easy good looks made him suitably cast as the fun-loving party boy but there was a countermanding single-purpose intensity in Hemsworth as he took to the wheel. Daniel Bruhl also shines as Niki Lauda, showing the methodical and calculated counterbalance to Hunt.
Cinematography is excellent here, stationary ground-level shots juxtaposed with car-mounted shots some filtered with gauze to give you the feel of being a mask-covered race car driver yourself. Frames from different perspectives go by quickly to accentuate what is indicated by the title – a rush, a pure adrenaline rush. It almost makes me want to try driving a race car, almost.
Rush is good watch for anyone interested in the armchair speed and danger experience of a race car driver or for those interested in a character study of an outlier friendship based on obsessive competition.