‘Rush’ Review Roundup: Critics Approve Of Ron Howard’s Rival Racers Film
Rush stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl as 1970s Formula 1 racing rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The Ron Howard-directed picture follows the two professional drivers in the midst of racing's most fatal decade, where Lauda himself nearly dies in a crash that leaves his face forever marred by burn scars. The disparate personalities of the British Hunt – a roguish ladies man and Austrian Lauda – a stoic bound by discipline and ambition – are at the forefront of the film.
Part biopic, part action flick, Rush focuses both on Hunt and Lauda’s lives off the racetrack as well as on it. During the height of their rivalry, the two Formula 1 racers tie the knot – Hunt with supermodel Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) and Lauda with socialite Marlene Knaus (Alexandra Mara Lara). On the track, Hunt and Lauda battle it out through the German, Italian and Japanese Grand Prix to become the points winner in the heated 1976 season.
The majority of critics believe that Rush is Howard’s return to form – a truly engaging movie with emotional layers and convincing action sequences that come alive on screen. A rare few, however, found it lacking in depth and in excess of special effects.
“Rush toggles seamlessly back and forth between the two men and their backstories, their voice-over narrations, their love lives (Hunt's is a Hugh Hefner fantasy gone wild). In between, they jump into cars – Ferraris, Heskeths, McLarens – and zoom down the blacktop, spinning, careening, rocketing on. Rush, which marks a return to form (and more so) for Howard after plodding through adultery buddy movie comedies (The Dilemma) and Dan Brown sequeldom (Angels & Demons), is almost primal.” – Steven Read, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“There’s a truly gripping story at the core of Rush of how famed Formula One driver Niki Lauda was nearly killed in a horrific crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix that left him with a terribly burned face and damaged lungs. And yet only six weeks later he was back in the cockpit, competing — and winning — again. Such courage. Such willpower. Such are the things that action movies are made of. Too bad the movie that Ron Howard has actually made is mostly a lot of noise and nonsense, a garish enterprise that almost — though not quite — trivializes the tale.” – Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times.
“Rush is a Formula One racing drama of almost irresistible forward momentum. The on-track action is blistering, the filmmaking sure-footed (even as cars fishtail into catastrophic crashes), the characters bigger than life. Even more important, it avoids the stock plotting that turns most sports movies into bland emotional pick-me-ups. It’s one of the best films of Ron Howard’s career, certainly the most surprising. Who knew that this competent craftsman had such a furiously exciting, sex-drenched story in him?” – Colin Covert, Star Tribune
“Sure, director Ron Howard's thrill-ride is based on a legendary season in Formula 1 racing, but the movie (with its light and dark rivals and its doubling of themes) has the layers of a bedtime tale — albeit a rumbling and roaring, at times randy and romantic one. Rush takes seriously risk, calling, competition. This is a deeply adult drama, not least because Howard shows the costs of being so driven in a sport in which a driver is encased in a potential fireball.” – Lisa Kennedy, The Denver Post
Rush, rated R, is currently in wide release.
– Chelsea Regan