Ron Howard's Rush is a biographical film based on the rivalry between 1976 F1 racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The critics sure have felt the rush and are proclaiming this film to be Howard's "best so far".
"Though based on a true story, this is no by-the-book biopic. Nor is it a clichéd sports movie about the triumph of the human spirit. Rush is a thrilling action film and a moving tale of an adversarial friendship, a kind of anti-bromance that is as captivating as any love story," notes Claudia Puig in USA Today.
"This is Howard's best film, with a perfectly calibrated screenplay by Peter Morgan, author of The Queen and a master of character studies. Factor in the finely tuned performances by Brühl (he should be remembered come Oscar time) and Hemsworth, and the result is a winning formula," Puig pronounces.
That sounds promising.
So is it a director's baby or an actors' win? Both, say critics.
"I’ve seen Daniel Brühl (playing Niki Lauda) in several German-language films, and I’m not surprised that he’s perfect as the monomaniacal Lauda, but Chris Hemsworth (playing James Hunt) is the revelation here. He’s charismatic and funny, not to mention physically impressive, but also brings some depth to a character who could have been cartoonish, hinting at the real-life Hunt’s uncertainty and unhappiness," writes Andrew O' Heier in Salon.com.
John Anderson, on the other hand, makes a curious observation about the characters these actors portray.
"Despite being a schematic exercise in storytelling, Rush does take one calculated gamble: Neither of the protagonists is close to likable. Both are arrogant, reckless, unfeeling and übercompetitive—qualities that no doubt make for world-class drivers, but not for naturally sympathetic movie heroes. It's a smart twist on the usual, though, a calibration in a film about a sport in which everything is oversized except the margins of error. Working from a very clever script by Peter Morgan , Mr. Howard doesn't pick sides. He lets two distinctly abrasive characters rub up against his viewers, chafing them into gear," Anderson writes in The Wall Street Journal.
So the film has a strong script, a risque character profiling, brilliant acting and spot on direction? Is there anything left?
Yes, says Rafer Guzman. "Rush is most interesting when it's off the track and asking a fairly profound question: Which is the right way to live? Aesop came down firmly in favor of the ant (Ref: The Grasshopper and the Ant), but Rush has a more thought-provoking answer," Guzman ponders in Newsday.
Well, then the action must be worth it, eh?
"On the one hand, it is satisfying seeing Howard expertly handling a piece of adult mass entertainment. He's forged a team combining Slumdog Millionaire veterans like fluid cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and production designer Mark Digby with his own regular editors Dan Hanley and Mike Hill and veteran composer Hans Zimmer. Together, they make the lure and excitement of fast machines palpable on screen," answers Kenneth Turan in LA Times.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an unsurprising (by now) 90% on the tomatometer with the flattering comment, "A sleek, slick, well-oiled machine, Rush is a finely crafted sports drama with exhilarating race sequences and strong performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl."