Disclaimer: This is a review, and as such will contain opinions, spoilers and (often) general shit talking. (If you talk about what you don’t like about a work, you learn a lot. When you think through a work with the stakes presented to you by the creator, by the context of the work, you learn a lot. I review things, not because I love to dislike things, but because dislike contains rich and vital information for the process of experiencing something, but I cannot access it without interrogating it.) So, if you don’t want to have this thing spoiled for you, or don’t know how to behave when a person on the internet, that you don’t know, has opinions that don’t line up with yours, this review is not for you. It’s also not for the author/creator of the work. Please and thank you.

Rush is set in the golden age of F1 racing and based on a true sporting rivalry between British driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).

The film sticks pretty faithfully to events, capturing the highlights and key moments during the six years the story covers.

Their polar-opposite personalities and approaches to life — Hunt with his “life on the edge” and Lauda’s “it’s just business” is entertaining to watch, the races have you on the edge of your seat, and you want to see how the rivalry plays out.

I really love the conclusion the film comes to in the end; “Stop thinking of it as a curse to have an enemy in life. It can be a blessing, too. A wise man gets more from his enemies than a fool from his friends”.

The other thing the film gets right is the “rush” part of F1 racing.

The stakes are high, the conditions range from challenging to fatal and the film repeatedly reminds us of the “20% chance of dying” the drivers accept every time they get into their “coffins surrounded by high octane fuel, being driven round 170 miles per hour”.

I did also constantly gape at the safety standards back in the 70s in F1. A lot of that stuff would be unthinkable today.

Just like in aviation, the safety advancements in F1 have often followed the loss of lives (like people hanging out on the grass next to the racetrack with cars speeding by, hello?!).

The film balances life and racing beautifully, and we get to see how Hunt and Lauda push each other, in life and on the track. Some really nice blocking make you feel, not only like the driver, but the car, race track and spectators.

It also captures that 70s vibe perfectly, and at no point does it feel too much of a modern window into the past.

Not only is the casting good and the costuming on point, both Brühl and Hemsworth have done their homework on their characters, making them feel true portrayals of these people.

If all you’ve ever seen of Hemsworth is Thor, it would be an easy assumption to say he doesn’t really act, just shows up to set to do a version of a very one-dimensional character, like Robert Downey Jr. or Bruce Willis.

But Rush is an excellent display of how versatile Hemsworth really is; he gets the accent, mannerisms and vibe of his character right to a point where you feel like you’re not looking at Hemsworth any more.

And the same is true for Brühl’s Lauda.

While Lauda’s character took more make up and prosthetics to resemble the real person in various stages of his life, the way of speaking, the attitude, and the energy of Lauda is what really comes through. According to IMDB, Lauda even exclaimed, “Sh*t! That’s really me!” when he first saw Rush.

And I absolutely love that we get snippets of people speaking in languages other than English, because there’s nothing I hate more than authenticity sacrificed for convenience.

And yet, even with great cinematography, awesome costuming and stellar performances, this reminds me most of the kind of movies we used to get on TV.

I suppose what I mean by that are mid-budget films, where the quality of the story and the creativity spurred on by a limited budget would result in a film that was really good, enjoyable to watch and even impactful (partly, because it was good and partly because you ended up seeing it several times).

Now, I know, I know, it’s a Ron Howard film. And it feels very Howard, too.

He did a great job with an estimated budget of $38 million — and grossing $26.9 million in the American and $71.3 million in international box office (like soccer, F1 has always been more a sport of the international community) — putting this movie firmly in that mid-budget movie category.

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