August 9, 2023

RUSH Drives the Middle of the Road

RUSH (Blu-ray)
2013 / 123 min
Available at
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😽

Fairly or unfairly, I tend to assess racing movies based on how they stack up against 1966’s Grand Prix and 1971’s Le Mans. From a narrative standpoint, those films were wildly different, but how they depicted the action of the sport itself was groundbreaking...and still very impressive today.

And because his lengthy filmography has demonstrated a penchant for tackling a variety of genres (and has a pretty good record doing so), I also tend to assess Ron Howard films based on how they stack up against other Ron Howard films. Again, fairly or unfairly, since he hasn’t directed a great one in a long time.

That being said, the 2013 biographical racing drama, Rush, drives the middle of the road on both counts.

The film is based on the rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Kiki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), during the 1970s. The two couldn’t be more different: Hunt is brash, cocky and hedonistic, while Lauda is an aloof and calculating mechanical genius. A majority of the narrative focuses on the 1976 season, when they were fighting neck and neck for the championship. 

"I know you drove it 'cause I always write down the mileage!"
While the story is interesting, knowledgeable of its subject and boasts excellent performances from both actors, neither character is particularly likable. Maybe that's reflective of their real life personas, but from a film perspective, having at least one character we can relate to - if even a little - would make their conflict a little more engaging. Grand Prix was bogged down by soapy melodrama, but at least we cared about the drivers. By the time Rush gets to the climactic race, we’re more curious than truly invested.

As for the racing sequences…there’s a lot of them, but somewhat frustratingly, most are presented as quick montages with screen text revealing the winner. The only race shown at-length is the season finale during the climax. Both Grand Prix and Le Mans both featured lengthy race sequences that practically put the viewer in the driver’s seat, which not-only built up the tension and drama, they were terrific visceral experiences (especially on the big screen). Rush certainly earns high technical marks, with good camerawork, editing and period detail, but while these scenes are enjoyable, we never feel like we’re part of the action.

No stranger to directing true stories, Ron Howard keeps things fast paced and isn’t afraid to get down & dirty (particularly in depicting Hunt’s womanizing). The result is typically slick and perfectly watchable, but never as engaging as some of his more lauded biographical films.

This is a re-issue of the Blu-ray first released in 2014.


RACE FOR THE CHECKERED FLAG: THE MAKING OF RUSH - A decent six-part making-of featurette with plenty of interviews.

THE REAL STORY OF RUSH - A 20 minute look at the real life drivers, cars and era.


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