Ron Howard’s F1 movie Rush, which tells the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda’s rivalry in 1976, was always going to ask two major questions of racing fans.
First, whether the racing scenes would deliver action and authenticity in equal measure. And second, whether it could keep you on the edge of your seat despite the likelihood that you know from the start how it ends.
As far as the racing action goes they’ve done a superb job – though not totally a successful one. The cars look stunning and sound like the end of the world – the howling Ferrari V12 grabs you by the throat through cinema speakers.
The action is superbly realized, particularly in the case of Lauda’s crash, which is re-enacted in terrifying detail. The downside is that some of the old tracks are not perfectly recreated. But you have to give credit to Howard and his production team for what they were able to achieve with a less-than-blockbuster budget.
The story is retold a rapid pace, yet even though it breaks the two-hour mark some details had to be omitted – the first-lap crash and Hunt’s disqualification at Brands Hatch being a notable example.
But scriptwriter Peter Morgan has made some judicious choices about what to leave out and what to keep in, creating a taut, gripping story which ticks the boxes marked ‘glamour’, ‘action’ and ‘sex’ (the last one is checked several times thanks to Hunt’s infamous exploits).
MORE: Check out “Rush: Inside Racing’s Greatest Rivalry”, the free eBook available for iPad
Chris Hemsworth makes a smoldering Hunt but it’s Daniel Bruhl who steals the show as the brusque, lovably unlovable Lauda. If there’s one important thing the film makers get right it’s the fundamental respect which lies beneath the rivalry between the pair, while avoiding the Hollywood impulse to pigeonhole them as ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy.
Rush is not a pedantically accurate re-telling of the 1976 season – we have video reviews and documentaries for that. It is an energetic and thoroughly enjoyable movie which F1 fans and motor racing illiterates can both enjoy.