Put “Rush” in the bin of most criminally ignored films of 2013. This terrific drama/action from director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan may just be the best car racing movie ever made.
American audiences largely ignored it, probably because it’s about European Formula 1 racing. The two main figures, James Hunt and Niki Lauda, are giants in their sport but virtually unknown here in the States. In the 1970s they fought an epic battle of wills for the racing crown, resulting in tragic events but also a strange, powerful bond that forms between rivals.
Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is the prototypical bigger-than-life playboy, who raced for the fame and the thrills. Lauda (Daniel Brühl, who should’ve gotten an Oscar nomination) is the precise technician who approached racing like a business and a science, but had trouble getting along with the people.
The racing scenes are amazing both visually and aurally, as the filmmakers wrap the audience inside the buzzing tornado of a Formula 1 car.
Even better, though, are the exchanges between the rivals, which are sniping and ugly at first, but later take on a comradely, warm aspect that surprises both of them. The secret to this movie is that it’s a character study hiding inside the clothes of a racing flick.
It didn’t win at the box office, but hopefully “Rush” will take the checkered flag in its video release.
Video goodies are quite good indeed, including an expansive making-of documentary, “Race for the Checkered Flag: The Making of Rush,” and “The Real Story of Rush,” which explores the real-world events that inspired the movie. Howard also provides a behind-the-scenes look at his filmmaking process, and there are deleted scenes.