'Rush' brings real thrill to racing
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 22:09
I am not a fan of car racing. I find that watching cars drive around in a circle can be quite boring. The high speeds and loud, boisterous noises are exciting, but these qualities are often overshadowed by the tedious, repetitive nature of the sport. NASCAR does not get a lot of respect in the sports community, but Formula One is even more distant from prestige and viewership here in the United States. It is an international format of car racing, which alienates it from the ethnocentric perspective of American sports.
Despite all the burnt rubber and checkered flags on the surface, “Rush” is not a movie about car racing. It is about the rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) as they race to become world champions during the 1976 Formula One season. That idea alone would appeal to hardcore fans of the sport, but what makes this movie really work is the focus into the human natures of the rivals as they progress through their careers. The engine that runs this movie is the simultaneous animosity and respect that Hunt and Lauda have for each other; the races themselves are just the chassis. As these two men reflect upon their competitiveness and desire to win at all costs, they both realize that they need the other driver to fully appreciate winning.
What caught my eye was the stark contrast between Hunt and Lauda and how their fundamental and strategic differences are represented throughout the movie. Despite Hunt’s flashy personal life and reckless behavior, he is perhaps most nervous of anyone to race. He vomits before jumping into the driver’s seat, willing himself to do whatever it takes to win. Lauda is depicted as a racer-calculator who knows the exact measurements of every part in his car. He analyses the cost/benefit scenarios of every race and acts according to plan. There is no doubt that he expects to win, but there is a method to consistency that he must follow if he wants to be successful.
Perhaps being the movie that truly begins Oscar season, “Rush” has no shortcomings in terms of production quality. Both Hemsworth and Bruhl give incredibly convincing performances, unexpectedly solidifying their statuses as quality actors. The actual racing scenes are beautifully shot: loud, flashy, and accompanied by plenty of camera shake. The audio quality transports you to the racetrack, ready to plug your ears once the engines start to rev and sputter. A few moments of the movie are actually spent looking into the mechanisms of a racecar. The pistons pump in time with the heartbeats of the racers that drive their cars through high-speed danger in order to cross the finish line for perhaps the first – or the last – time. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you enjoy car racing or not. This movie is sure to thrill.