If you love high adrenaline racing, gorgeous women, international locales and a healthy dose of competition, than this is the movie for you. Rush is a movie that chronicles the real life racing competition between James Hunt from England and Niki Lauda from Austria. My husband is a race car enthusiast and showed me pictures and footage from the races and I have to say that whoever was in charge of casting the two males leads did a splendid job. Chris Hemsworth brings a cocky swagger to Hunt’s character, while Daniel Bruhl brings a detail oriented and strict work ethic approach to Lauda’s character.
The movie starts with a voice over from Hunt, stating that women are attracted to race car drivers because of the thrill. They face death in that particular moment and it doesn’t take much for a car to spin out of control or for an opponent to crash into you. Women are attracted to the men behind the wheel because of their predatory approach to racing and their sexy bravado.
James Hunt is a very skilled driver who has a tendency to throw up before every match. It’s a bit of a ritual, you could say, but it happens before every race. Niki Lauda, on the other hand, watches some of the races and takes note of what works and what doesn’t. He’s interested in building a better racecar and more to the point, what goes into making a successful racecar: you need the proper specs, the proper mechanics and a keen intellect in how far you can take yourself out on the race track. Lauda is cool under fire and performs successfully, much to Hunt’s chagrin.
Both men are determined; both men are in it to win it. Hunt comes from a family with wealth. So does Lauda. He, however, did not have the blessing of his father and branched out on his own to get the financing he needed to make it on his own. A gutsy move and one that earned him a spot on the Ferrari team. Talk about a step in the right direction. It is at this time where Hunt experiences a huge blow: his sponsors are unable to secure financing and close down their shop. Hunt is down, but not out. He ends up getting a spot on the McLaren team, but only after famous driver Emerson Fittipaldi leaves the team.
Both men are shown on the racecar circuit and both men catch the eye of beautiful women. Where Hunt is a notorious playboy, sleeping with many women, drinking, smoking and leading a dissolute lifestyle, Lauda is careful to lead a disciplined lifestyle, preferring to practice improving his car and slowly building a relationship with an attractive woman named Marlene Knaus. Hunt changes his lifestyle somewhat – he marries a famous model, Suzy Miller, and continues to race while she continues to model in America.
Competition reaches a fierce level when both men are shown competing in the 1976 Formula One season. Hunt ends up being disqualified in the Spanish Grand Prix and this not only makes temper flare, but it sets into motion a chain of events that stretch Hunt’s patience to the limits. His wife leaves him for Richard Burton, another renowned playboy of the time. He resumes his drinking and womanizing like it never stopped. Lauda marries Marlene and hopes that he will be able to balance his professional life with his personal one.
Tragedy strikes at the German Grand Prix. The weather had been uncooperative and torrential rain had poured down on race day. Not a safe thing for those racecar drivers to be out there. Lauda tries to persuade the rest of the men to cancel the race based on the horrible weather conditions. Hunt, being the pompous ass that he was, suggests that the only reason why Lauda wanted everyone to forego the race was so that he could still retain his title as champion. What’s that expression about hindsight being 50-50? Nobody listens and who ends up paying the price: Lauda. After enduring a horrendous accident, Lauda sustained third degree burns and head injuries. He had to remain in the hospital, full well knowing that the rest of the men, including his rival Hunt, where all racing without him. This not only serves as inspiration, it makes Lauda more determined than ever to get back out there and show everyone, Hunt included, that he will make a full comeback.
At the Italian Grand Prix, Lauda races and finishes in fourth place and the crowd goes wild with support and admiration for him. Hunt doesn’t finish the race. I say, served him right. Once the Japanese Grand Prix rolls around, the weather repeats the same ominous pattern of the German Grand Prix. This time, Lauda bows out of the race, realizing that his life with Marlene and his personal safety is far more important. Hunt finishes third in the race but managed to qualify with enough points to end up winning the championship. Later on, Lauda is seen in an airport hangar when he encounters Hunt. Hunt is once again behaving like a movie star, using drugs, alcohol and continuing to sleep with many women, while Lauda is continually maintaining his focus on performance. Lauda comments that the way to keep on top is to channel your energy and focus into being more precise. His words are lost on Hunt. In the end, Lauda is heard commenting on how Hunt dies too young, due to a lifestyle of fast living. Lauda mentions that of all the men he had raced, Hunt was the one he had the most respect for.
Ron Howard does an incredible job of capturing the tight angles and sweeping crowds of the racing circuit. I enjoyed every minute of this film and highly recommend it. For someone who did not have a deep knowledge of racecar driving, this was an eye opening movie. My favorite scene is when Niki Lauda and Marlene Knaus are stranded in Italy and waiting to get a ride. The two Italian men who stop to give them a lift don’t acknowledge Marlene’s attractiveness; instead they realize that the man who needs the lift is racecar legend Niki Lauda. That particular scene makes me scream with laughter every single time. Maybe it’s because I have the Italian background and can appreciate the enthusiasm of the two fans. Or maybe it’s because Niki Lauda gives the two fans and Marlene a taste of the way he drives. And that scene is nothing short of spectacular!
To get caught up in the rush of this true-life racing drama check out RUSH onHBO, HBO OD and HBOGo. It debuts Saturday, October 11 at 8:00pm. Here is a tease.