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'Rush' review: It's an exhilarating, yet a simple and old-fashioned tale

Sep 20, 2013 10:43 PM IST India India

Cast: James Hunt, Niki Lauda
Director: Ron Howard

I wouldn't call myself a Formula One enthusiast, yet I thoroughly enjoyed Ron Howard's Rush, a compelling drama based on the real-life rivalry between racing legends James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Both men, poles apart in personality, famously set their sights on the same goal - winning the 1976 world championship.

In the flashier of the two parts, Chris Hemsworth (of Thor) stars as swaggering British playboy Hunt, who's cocky and undisciplined both on and off the track. But it's Daniel Bruhl (of Inglourious Basterds) who leaves a lasting impression as the brusque Austrian racer Lauda, obsessive in his pursuit of victory, yet relentlessly methodical. Tracing their rivalry from the moment they first competed against each other to the climax of their collision in the 1976 championship, the film works best when the rubber hits the road. The racing scenes are thrillingly shot, giving you the feeling of being strapped in that Ferrari yourself, speeding and zipping around the track as the engines roar.

Howard hires his Frost/Nixon scribe Peter Morgan to give the story emotional heft, so there's all this talk about mutual respect, and about both men inspiring each other despite being rivals. After Lauda crashes his car at Germany's Nurburgring track, burning his face and lungs horribly, Hunt closes in on the big win, which in turn fuels Lauda to recuperate swiftly so he can return to compete again.

Shot alternately as an ESPN live feed when the action's on the track, and then as a 'living-the-good-life' commercial when it's focusing on Hunt's debauched revelry, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle hits all the right notes. Crisply edited, competently acted, and tightly directed by Howard, Rush is an exhilarating ride, but also a simple, old-fashioned tale about rivalry and ambition.

I'm going with three-and-a-half out of five. It's consistently engaging. Don't miss it.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

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RY Kumar Jain, Bangalore
Dhwaj, Chennai