BY DANIEL ENG
The tension is palpable as two professional race car drivers stare each other down. One dons a ski mask before fitting his head into his polished, glistening helmet; sitting at the helm of his car, the pale, fiery eyed driver stares through his visor across the front of the track at another driver. Surrounded by women, the long haired, blonde, narrow eyed driver laughs, holding the half clothed women in his arms for a moment before turning his attention to the first driver.
It is 1976, and a spectacle is about to be witnessed. It is a race that would change the course of Formula One motor racing forever. The second driver: Niki Lauda, begins to narrate that he would be known for two things in his career, being very fast, and the second, in that very race: chasing the second driver, “like an ***hole.”
This scene sets the stage for Ron Howard’s sweeping, epic film “Rush,” a tremendous work with nuances from some of the very best biopics ever directed. The film follows the rivalry between racing legends Niki Lauda and James Hunt in the 1976 Formula One season.
The careers of these two giants are traced as Howard juxtaposes the two opposite personalities through alternating narration and scenes. Following their rise from being unsponsored Formula
Three racers, the film leads to a stunning on and off track collision at the height of their careers. What unfolds on screen is a masterpiece, as equally moving as Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind” and as momentous as “Apollo 13.”
The cinematography is thrilling, as Howard takes us inside the engines of the cars, between roaring pistons, back out onto the track sweeping over immaculate cars as they race for the lead. Off the track, crisp camera work, clean editing and quality sound effects create an atmosphere worthy of the on screen battle between Lauda and Hunt for World Champion.
CCM students who saw the film have already given “Rush” accolades.
Elizabeth Mertz, an early childhood education major at CCM, said there was nothing about the film that she did not like.
“[It] was inspiring, a very good contemporary movie,” she said. “If you have time to go see a movie you should definitely see ‘Rush.’”
First-year CCM student Conor Burnett said that his expectations were exceeded by the film.
“I watch every car movie, I’m passionate about cars,” Burnett said. “I wasn’t disappointed at all.”
The acting in “Rush” is superb, as Chris Hemsworth (Hunt) and “Inglourious Basterds” Daniel Brühl (Lauda), mesmerize on screen with sheer passion as they bring to life not only their characters, but the sharp dichotomy between them.
Lauda, a brilliant, arrogant, no-nonsense type, made his start into racing using money, then used his engineering knowledge coupled with his logical, lateral thinking style to rise through the ranks. Once at the top, his fame was a reflection only on his racing, as his personality and identity were focused entirely on being the best, no matter what the cost. He casted away personal relationships as priorities as his field of view was as narrow as the visor he looked upon the track with.
Hunt on the other hand was a loud mouthed, wild, show off playboy who raced his way from the bottom all the way to the top both in and out of the car. A charmer, his panache helped secure him a spot in the big leagues and in the arms of a lot of women. He became infamous for his brash public persona, drinking, drugging and seeking thrills in any avenue available to him.
This contrast is where much of the strength of the film comes from, as it is not only a well-made biopic, but a deep character study into the lives and hearts of two men willing to die for what they loved. The distance between the two men begins to minimize on and off the track as the story progresses and the audience discovers that two drivers, worlds apart, may not be so different after all.