Rush (15)

Directed by Ron Howard
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Pierfransesco Favino, Christian McKay
122 mins
On general release from 13th September 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Chequered Lives

It starts on a Formula 3 track in southern England in the early 1970's. A happy-go-lucky daredevil Brit, James Hunt (Hemsworth) encounters an irascible and perfectionist Austrian newcomer, Niki Lauda (Bruhl). It's an acrimonious meeting. Hunt takes Lauda's line through a corner to win and gets a mouthful but scornfully laughs off the allegation of dangerous driving.

From here on in the battle lines are drawn. Cock-sure playboy entitlement squares up to military style precision and adherence to detail. Director Ron Howard ensures it is nail biting stuff to the last lap. Having researched well to capture the flavour and context of the film the razzamatazz of race day is effortlessly conjured up in Peter Morgan's screenplay.

As the two rise through the ranks the differences in personality become apparent. While Hunt is enjoying lots of champagne, sex and oysters as a precursor to throwing-up before each race, Lauda is up all night caressing and fine-tuning his one love, the engine block of his car. Hunt is aided by the wealth of Lord Hesketh (McKay), and Lauda, spurned by his banker father, borrows his way into Formula 2.

An uneasy truce exists until Lauda, on the back of his lead driver Clay Regazzoni (Favino), is serendipitiously catapulted to the acme of Formula 1, to the anguish of Hunt and his partying backers. For him the money has run out and after marrying Suzy Miller (Wilde) on a whim, he is now emotionally unstable and high on drugs and booze. Desperately he begs for a ride to compete with his nemesis.

Lauda meanwhile has entered the world of Italian glitterati, wealth and prestige,and finds his own wife and mentor among the high life.

1976 begins with Lauda as World Champion. He quickly builds up a 50 point lead and looks unassailable. Then August arrives and the German Grand Prix at Nuremberg The weather is atrocious; Lauda cautions safety first and cancellation, but Hunt wins the vote and the race is on.

Lauda crashes and is horrendously burnt. As a traumatised racing world looked on, Hunt narrows the Austrian's lead. Watching it all happen on TV only galvanises Lauda's recovery and resolve.

In his comeback race he finished fourth, to the adulation of the fans. The battle is enjoined again until a heart-stopping finale in Japan. By now there is a mutual respect between the rivals as they face up on the grid, one last time, in a torrential downpour.

How will it all end?

With great performances from the leads, a memory jerking soundtrack and visuals to match there is something here for everyone. The outcome may be history, but as far as this film goes it is hard to say who was the real winner.

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