Latest Howard film thrives on realistic lead performances

Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures

The action and biography film Rush came out in theaters last weekend, telling the true story of the 1976 rivalry between iconic Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Total guy flick? Think again. The film is chock-full of romance, drama, inspiring events, history and, of course, Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth. It is all about racecars, adrenaline and the intense battle for the 1976 World Championship of Formula 1.

Chris Hemsworth plays Hunt, a British playboy and professional racecar driver who spends more time with women and booze than focusing on his work. His fearlessness and love of proximity to death takes him from the amateur league of Formula 3 to the big stage of Formula 1. Hemsworth, who fortunately looks exactly like James Hunt did back in the day, does an excellent job of playing the role of the cocky and reckless driver. His English accent is flawless, and throughout the film one sees the real historical figure of Hunt from scene to scene, not the Hollywood star we all know from Thor, Snow White and the Huntsman or Star Trek.

Daniel Brühl (The Bourne Ultimatum), a Spanish actor relatively new to the global spotlight, plays the character of Niki Lauda—who is seen as the face of Formula 1 and Hunt’s clear rival. Born into a wealthy family in Austria, Lauda begins his racing career in Formula 3, much to his family’s disapproval. Unlike Hunt, Lauda buys his way into Formula 2 (and is quickly promoted to F1 as a driver for Ferrari), but redefined the game upon his arrival. With undying motivation and passion for his work, Lauda works long hours to improve the cars he drives, wasting no time on the playboy lifestyle like his English opponent. In stark contrast to Hunt, Lauda is calculated and methodical, never driving recklessly or taking major risks. Brühl plays Lauda’s character better than anyone could have imagined. From the physical appearance to the natural German/Austrian accent in his English, Brühl is Niki Lauda. The actor even contorted his face to create the absurd and unattractive overbite of Lauda, adding a new level to the validity of the portrayal.

Director Ron Howard, as per his style, goes all out on the graphics, soundtrack, acting and costumes

This film was expensive, costing just under $40 million. Director Ron Howard (Cinderella Man), as per his style, goes all out on the graphics, soundtrack, acting and costumes. However, American audiences were not nearly as excited about its release as those in Europe. This is due mainly to the fact that NASCAR is the major racing sport here, not Formula 1.

As this film attests, however, there has been a recent effort by F1 to gather a greater American fan base. What better way to do it than with a Hollywood film? Keep an eye out for more F1 promotion, as it could definitely be an upcoming sport here in the U.S. Until then, unless you are a diehard Formula 1 fan already, Rush is a great place to start.