‘Rush’ review: Possibly as thrilling as going to the F1 races itself

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September 28, 2013 by Hope W.

Watched two movies last night: a documentary about Formula 1 called 1 (trailer below), and Rush, about the 1970s rivalry between F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl and Olivia Wilde.

Watching the documentary is not a prerequisite for watching Rush, but F1 fans should definitely watch it for the history of the sport. I’m not particularly a fan, but it was interesting and illuminating to see how F1 racing has evolved, and what former F1 drivers and people involved in the sport itself thought of it and the risks they were taking.

More importantly, it highlighted just how dangerous F1 racing actually was back then; and each time they described the crashes that happened and their fellow compeers who died for their love for racing, it was heartbreaking. Apparently, after the seminal events that are told in Rush, the organisers of the race started looking to better improve the safety of the sport, because they were starting to broadcast F1 worldwide, and nobody wanted to see a race where the drivers stopped halfway because they felt it was too dangerous for them. But it wasn’t until the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 — whose popularity made him like the Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel of his day — that the public really sat up and took notice of how dangerous F1 was, and the organisers were pressured to make the sport even safer. Since then, no one else has died while racing in F1.

Obviously after that, I went into Rush knowing exactly what would happen, but that’s not the point. I still enjoyed the movie very much (other than the fact that my theatre’s sound system was in eardrum-bursting mode, worsened by the movie being about F1). It had gorgeous stylised shots (re: rain in slow-mo), a haunting score by Hans Zimmer, and a charismatic leading man in Chris Hemsworth, who did the partying playboy daredevil persona of the actual James Hunt justice.

James Hunt (left); Chris Hemsworth as him (right). The real James Hunt was very handsome and charismatic, and Chris Hemsworth played him to perfection.

Daniel Brühl as the straighter, more serious Niki Lauda was a good foil too; plus, he looks like the doppelganger of the real Niki Lauda before his accident. The races as portrayed in the film are also as close to the real events as they could get without any Hollywood bastardisation to increase the stakes — at least from what I could tell — though I can’t say the same about their back stories. Though rivals on the track, James Hunt and Niki Lauda were actually close friends in real life; also, the dissolution of James Hunt’s marriage was skimped over too quickly, and Olivia Wilde’s appearance as his wife was too abrupt.

The sound editing could do some work though. There were parts during the races when I felt the (gorgeous, gorgeous) score should have been front and centre, but it was overshadowed by the sound of the racing cars. Or maybe it’s just the sound system being *way* louder than normal, and me having hearing problems, so I couldn’t pick out the score. My ears were feeling terrible by then, so I was half-covering my ears to muffle the cars, but that effectively muffled everything else too.

But other than the deafening experience, it was lovely. To be honest, when I first heard about the movie a few months back, I wasn’t sure if I would like it. But Chris Hemsworth — and the other supporting actors — did a really good job, and Hans Zimmer’s score was perfect as usual, and watching the documentary and going in with prior knowledge of the sport definitely helped. It won’t be an Oscar contender in the major categories, but I bet it will do well, with tons of F1 fans around the world, and the fact that it only cost $38 million to make.

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