‘Happiness is your biggest enemy. It weakens you…’
I can’t think of anything more dull than F1. The thought of watching cars driving round a track for hours fills me with horror, and reminds me of mundane Sunday afternoons with four TV channels and no such thing as the internet. This has been the main reason why it has taken me nearly seven years to watch Rush – despite the starry cast and bucketloads of critical acclaim. I should have known, the thing that makes Rush so exhilarating, so compelling, is not the racing, it’s the people. The human heart that pulsates throughout.
James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) represent opposite sides of the same coin. Hunt, the reckless playboy and Lauda the meticulous champion, both of whom will give anything for their shot at glory. Rush charts their symbiotic rise through the ranks and subsequent epic battle to be crowned formula one champion.
I recently watched Ford vs Ferrari and declared it the best film of 2019. Watching Rush for the first time within weeks of that declaration didn’t tempt me to revise that assertion, but it did give me a new fervour for car racing played out on screen. I also caught Days of Thunder recently too, but that pales into insignificance when compared to Rush and Ford vs Ferrari, two heavyweights of the sports biopic genre. As with Ford vs Ferrari, Rush is rendered great by a pair of captivating performances. Hemsworth has a lot of fun as James Rush, the James Bond of F1, but he also captures the emptiness and isolation that his hedonistic lifestyle no doubt entailed. Bruhl, on the other hand, personifies the precision and determination that defined F1 legend Niki Lauda. Together, the two of them enjoy and endure a rivalry forged of steel, rubber and a prescient mutual respect.
I’m not knowledgeable enough about Hunt or Lauda to comment on the factual accuracy of Rush, although you can normally count on master director Ron Howard to have done his research, but in terms of pure entertainment, pure human emotion, it is difficult to imagine anyone coming away from Rush unhappy.
Howard has taken an incredible story and his talented cast have brought it to life. F1 might still be boring (it is), but don’t let that put you off. There is so much more to Rush than cars.