wed 19/06/2024

DVD: Rush | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Rush

DVD: Rush

Fast, sharp and engaging tale of motor sport's most famous rivalry

Lauda and Hunt, in the red and on track

The history of motor racing films is littered with detritus.

While the sport itself, particularly back in the Sixties and Seventies, undoubtedly pitted man and machine against each other in circumstances where the smallest wrong-headed twitch could be fatal, Hollywood’s response has mostly been turgid: either po-faced, petrol-head fare such as Le Mans, Grand Prix and the Tony Scott/Tom Cruise turkey, Days of Thunder, or affable slapstick gibberish such as The Cannonball Run and Monte Carlo or Bust. This lame record, combined with director Ron Howard’s record of stirring unnecessary added slush into his films, did not bode well. Rush, however, spectacularly bucks the odds.

Ostensibly the story of James Hunt, with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor jaw and piercing blues gleaming from the promotional material, it turns out to be as much, if not more, the story of his great rival Niki Lauda. The film especially focuses on their climatic competitive clashes during the 1976 Grand Prix season. Hemsworth, an Australian, makes Hunt’s accent a touch too posh in places but otherwise does a fine job of nailing the wild card playboy driven to win, whatever the costs. It is Daniel Brühl's Lauda, however, who steals the film. Where Hunt may lead an enviably hedonistic toff lifestyle, all champers, parties and ladies, Brühl’s almost autistic Lauda, analysing every possibility and coming on like an Austrian version of Viz’s Mr Logic, is the more fascinating. He’s helped in this by his story’s more definitive highs and lows, including the appalling crash on Germany’s lethally rain-swept Nürburgring, and his extraordinary comeback afterwards.

While Rush contains some riveting races, capturing glimpses of Seventies Formula One’s pure, ramped-up, adrenalised danger, it’s not just a boys' film. It is, instead, a character-driven drama with Lauda especially sympathetic and entertainingly drawn. There’s a wonderful sequence where he and his future wife, whom he’s just met, are hitching a ride with some Italians who give him the wheel but then needle him, as does his future wife, about how boringly he drives. The result is satisfying, amusing and also thrilling, and his brusque manner throughout is thoroughly enjoyable – “It’s a Ferrari!” he's pointedly told at one point. “It’s a shitbox!” he replies.

Coming in at two hours, Rush is still one of the tightest, most fat-free films Howard has ever made, avoiding his tendency towards Hollywood sentiment and telling a taut story with period detail intact and a real sense of excitement.

DVD extras include a documentary on the true story that the film is based on, a "making of" documentary, and deleted scenes, with the two-disc edition also boasting interviews with the film’s stars, a featurette on its world premiere and six mini-docs bearing titles such as Ron Howard's Tweet and The Sexy Seventies.

Overleaf: Watch the trailer for Rush

It is Daniel Brühl’s Niki Lauda who steals the film


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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