I'll be honest here, being the American I am, I didn't even know that Formula 1 racing existed before I heard about this movie, nevertheless the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, the most I knew about actual competitive racing was there was this thing called NASCAR and people drove around in circles and that Mario Kart was a fun game, however I never actually payed attention to it. After watching Rush I can now say I am entirely intrigued about Formula 1, especially the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda that, from the looks of it (I am not an expert so don't take my word as gospel on this statement), was very accurate in the portrayal of the real people.
I first have to give an impeccable notice to Ron Howard for his awesome job at directing this. The film stays completely engaging and you never feel as if you had to know the story before watching it, and it also never had to do an expository on what formula 1 racing was about, it just through you into the story and you caught on from there, which in my opinion created a perfect balance on how it should be. The race scenes kept me at the edge of my seat, and while I felt like he could have a cut a little off some of the less important races, there was a perfect balance between the action (racing) and the more important part of the plot, how the rivalry between the two men affected their characters. However, while I am on the topic of the race scenes, may I say that they were no less than stellar, hearing the jolting roar of the engines and the shifts of perspective (with pieces of first person which was awesome), and keeping a clear picture of what was going on when expected (AND THANK THE LORD NO SHAKY CAM), it was just fantastic. Give this a cinematography nomination right now, it definitely earned it.
Despite all the grandness of the races, those would have had no effect if there were no characters to put stake in the races, but not only stake but complexity on who you should even root for (this film pays equal respect to the flaws and highlights of both its principals) and it takes the two characters and shows both of their (very different) path to success and philosophy. There was a quote said in the movie that was, "A wise man learns more from his enemy than a fool from his friend," and that was completely outlined in the driving relationship of Lauda and Hunt, watching themselves push each other to the extreme was what truly drove the movie.
While, a lot of the engaging rivalry can be credited to the script and Howard's direction, the main driving force behind this has to be the great performances by Hemsworth and Bruhl. Now, there are many people saying Bruhl stole the show but I felt like they were both brought everything to the characters and that they both, equally stole the scenes that were focused on them. It was these performances that was what made your flip back and forth on for which character you should root for, and it ends on a note where you are just rooting for both of them at the same time, despite that the majority of the film is them going at each other, which is very hard to do. As for Hemsworth, this was the role that shows that he has depth as an actor and isn't just a blockbuster star (which he does great in), this was by far the best performance I have seen him give, while it's hard to see an actor as big as Chris Hemsworth in a movie and be like, 'That's James Hunt', he pulls it off beautifully. And as for Bruhl, this is such a breakout performance for him, he was perfect for the role and I definitely want to see his career go forward from here.
I also want to mention the score, despite being a big music nerd (especially when it comes to choral, symphonic, and orchestral pieces), I typically don't acknowledge a musical score in a movie, unless it stands out to me, and the score for Rush did. The score was captivating and matched the tone of the various scenes perfectly, Hans Zimmer has done a lot of movies (and if often very overrated, he is a fairly predictable composer), but this is one of the times I will say whatever praise he gets, he deserves it.
Overall, Rush is a fascinating take on true rivalries and how your enemies develop your character, ethics, and willingness to go out on a rush and take risk. Bolstered by strong performances, and captivating race sequences, Ron Howard creates a movie that will be very hard to forget.
9.5/10 Sticks of Bamboo