It's hard to discredit the extensive filmography of the Academy Award Winning director Ron Howard. On the other hand, it's impossible to ignore a noticeable decline in the filmmaker's work of late. That's why the release of Howard's newest feature, Rush, was initially surrounded by an enormous amount of skepticism. Yet, after a vocal outpouring of praise following its world premier in London and a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, the doubters have all but faded.
Formula One racing took the world by storm in the 1970s. One major reason for its success was the highly publicized rivalry between speedsters Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). Very different in their approaches, Lauda being known for his methodical commitment to the sport and Hunt living up to his reckless bad-boy reputation, these legends of racing faced off in one of the greatest Formula One seasons of all time.
After turning up my nose at its theatrical trailer and writing off Howard's latest film as a mediocre offering in the vein of other recent works such as The Dilemma, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, it can be humbling to admit that you should never judge a book by its cover. It's an understatement to call Rush a gratifying resurgence for the once heralded director. Instead, I'll give the action-packed drama a more warranted description. Make no mistake about it, Rush is one of the year's finest films. The full-throttle racing sequences wisely take a back seat to an even more impressive story. Screenwriter Peter Morgan pens a brilliant script that develops such interesting characters. But in addition to Howard's stellar direction and Morgan's well-crafted screenplay, Rush benefits from a breakthrough performance from its leading man Daniel Brühl. Although Hemsworth is undoubtedly the bigger household name, Brühl completely steals the film. Thanks to a fantastic collaborative effort that even stretches as far as Hans Zimmer's immaculate score, Ron Howard's Rush is a clear-cut winner.
The blemishes found in the feature are few and far between. With an ever-so-slightly bloated running time that barely surges past the two hour mark, there are a couple of lulls to be expected. However, as soon as you recognize a low-point in the film, Howard shifts gears and takes the movie in another direction. Furthermore, it's undeniable that Niki Lauda's character is far more intriguing and impressionable than James Hunt's. Partially due to the fact that Brühl's performance is superior and also because the writing and real-life story dictates as much. Consequently, it creates a small mismatch and imbalance to the film. But after really searching for criticisms and being overly picky, there's no question that Rush's highs obviously outweigh its lows.
I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong, and boy was I wrong! Rush has just about everything you can ask for in a great film. The racing scenes feel a bit lengthy, but they definitely get the adrenaline pumping. And Howard's feature delivers a knockout story with plenty of effective dramatic moments. This is an excellent sports movie that stacks up well against the competition. Rush is one picture you won't want to miss.