By Sam Gurdus
“Rush” tells the story of the high-speed rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
These two rivals couldn’t be more different. Hunt is a showy character who makes a big deal out of each of his wins, while Lauda mostly keeps to himself, instead preferring to focus on perfecting his car and driving. The two begin as bitter adversaries; but over time, they begin to gain respect for each other.
The film begins at the starting line of the 1976 German Grand Prix. Hunt and Lauda put on their helmets as they prepare to race. Lauda says that he is known for two things: his and Hunt’s rivalry and something that happened on Aug. 1, 1976.
The film jumps back in time by six years. We learn that Lauda was unable to get financial support from his family to make his way into Formula One. As a result, he decides to take out a loan and buy his way in.
Lauda joins a Formula One team and tells them to build a car that is up to his high standards. He gives ideas on how to lighten the car. Eventually, after many late nights, the car is done. Meanwhile, Hunt’s team enters Formula One but is unable to secure a sponsor and closes down. As a result, Hunt joins another team.
The season begins, and Lauda takes the lead. He wins the first two races and Hunt struggles to keep up. Hunt wins one race, but he is disqualified after his car measures too wide.
The next three paragraphs contain spoilers!
It’s now just a few hours before the 1976 German Grand Prix. Lauda tries to convince the other drivers to vote to cancel the race due to extremely dangerous wet conditions on the track. Hunt argues that having one less race would give Lauda a great advantage, so the drivers vote to race.
During the race, a part fails in Lauda’s car and he is sent flying into an embankment. His car bursts into flames. Lauda survives, but he is left with serious third-degree burns to his head and face. He also suffers internal burns to his lungs. He is stuck in the hospital for six weeks while he is treated for his injuries.
As a result of his injuries, Lauda loses his lead and Hunt comes within three points of him. The film’s ending depends on the outcome of the Japanese Grand Prix.
If we assume that “Rush’s” purpose is to accurately and entertainingly share the story of the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda, I would argue that it succeeds.
While it might not appeal to an incredibly wide audience, the film does a good job keeping the story interesting and entertaining for that narrower audience. It accurately represents the story, without sacrificing entertainment.
The film was written by Peter Morgan and directed by Ron Howard. Howard is best known for his past films like “Apollo 13” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Of his most famous past works, Howard’s historical drama “Apollo 13” most closely resembles the sports film “Rush.” While in different categories, the two films both rely heavily on drama and intense life or death moments.
They do differ in their plots, though. While “Apollo 13” focuses on teamwork and problem solving, “Rush” focuses more on rivalry and competition. Overall, while differing in story, the two films share the same well-thought-out writing and directing.
The writers and actors do a good job with the character development, creating a good contrast between the two main characters. It is obvious how the two main characters differ, with the recklessness of Hunt and the calculated decisions made by Lauda.
There are some improvements that could have been made. More thought could have been put into each detail. For example, they could have worked on making the racing scenes more intense. The racing scenes only seemed to be a small part of the film, but I felt that they could have been more prominent.
The soundtrack that was created for this film fit very well. It helped to add suspense and made different scenes more entertaining.
While the writers didn’t have as much control over the plot as they would in other non-historical films, I felt that they did a good job making real life entertaining enough for a film.
Overall, the film manages to do well telling a difficult story, but it may struggle with keeping the interest of some viewers. It does a good job accurately representing history, without majorly sacrificing its entertainment value. I would recommend this film, but I would rate it below a recent similar film, “Ford v Ferrari.”
Featured image (at the top of this post): Niki Lauda trains in a Ferrari 312 T2 for the German Grand Prix. PHOTO CREDIT: Lothar Spurzem / Wikimedia Commons