Movie Review: Rush - The epic retelling of the Niki Lauda - James Hunt rivalry

Modified 21 Oct 2013


“I accept every time I get in my car there’s 20% chance I could die,” – Niki Lauda.

Formula One has been blessed with some very intense rivalries, making it an interesting sport to watch always. And if that can be recreated on the silver screen, it would reach out to a larger audience too. Unfortunately, there have been too many projects that put by the wayside before they even took off, and so F1 fans have had the pleasure of watching only a precious few movies on their beloved sport.

And so, when Rush was announced, not many were of the opinion that the epic rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt could be successfully recreated on celluloid. But what everyone failed to realise was that it was not the intention of Ron Howard to seek out the truth about the rivalry or to try and get every minute detail correct. After all, like he wanted it to be known, it is a film and not a documentary.

Once you go in with that mindset, it becomes a lot easier to enjoy what is an epic retelling of a fantastic rivalry. The screenplay is brilliant in the sense that it allows you to feel all the emotions that you might experience in any of the other great movies. There is drama, there is emotion, there is humour, and for those who did not know the story beforehand, a whole lot of suspense. All of this is blended in perfectly in the screenplay, with Peter Morgan giving each aspect the right amount of attention.

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt is, at best, a good imitation of the man. Granted, there was perhaps not too much he could have done with the character, apart from what was portrayed – sex, drugs, booze and racing. But somehow, there is a lack of conviction on the screen. Perhaps, it is the old timers who knew Hunt that are the best judges, but you are left with the feeling that surely there is more to James Hunt then just making the motto of “Sex – Breakfast of champions” come true.

Daniel Bruhl, on the other hand, brings the character of Niki Lauda alive on the screen. His intensity when portraying the great man is so good that you end up believing that he is indeed the same person. The scenes at the hospital where he gets his treatment while watching Hunt win race after race is especially breathtaking, showing how much he wanted to beat Hunt.

Of course, since the great Niki Lauda is still alive, he may have gotten more than a few tips on the kind of person he was during that time. Chris Hemsworth, however, could only rely on second and third hand accounts of James Hunt and so, may not have had enough material to work on.

Another excellent depiction in the movie is the filming of the race itself. Every race that is shown is as true-to-life as it can be. While there are a few aspects of the racing that may not be consistent with the period in which the story is told, they are very minor and need not be harped on about. Rather, experiencing the thrill of racing from different angles, which may not be possible while actually watching the race, is something that would get the adrenaline flowing for the spectators.

Having said that, there are a few errors that have been overlooked in the making of the film. For instance, the rivalry on track was certainly as intense as depicted, but the rivalry off it wasn’t so. In fact, according to many, Lauda and Hunt were friends and even shared an apartment at one time. Also, Nurburgring was known as the Green Hell and not the Graveyard as shown in the movie (it was Sir Jackie Stewart who gave it the nickname).


But this would only be nit-picking on what is a really good movie. The end leaves you thrilled and the relationship between the drivers leaves you close to tears.

At the end of the movie, the entire theatre rose to give a standing ovation. I have never seen that happen in all the years that I have been going to the movies.

‘Nuff said!

Published 05 Oct 2013, 00:41 IST
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