Rush is best sports movie this year

Photo courtesy of Imagine Entertainment

rush_courtesyofimagineentertainment

Rush will definitely convert some moviegoers into Formula 1 auto race fans. It’s a straight-forward sports film with intense racing scenes that are exciting, dramatic, engrossing, and every other description that basically adds up to “awesome.”

Director Ron Howard’s biopic Rush tells the story of the iconic 1976 rivalry between legendary drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), two men with an insatiable drive to win. The competition that drove them to extremes and their deep passion for racing would make even the most hardcore athletes blush in shame. Their storied rivalry is epic, and the film does justice to the racers and their legacy.

Rush reaches a level of authenticity which is surprising when one considers the fact that Niki Lauda himself was a creative consultant. Hemsworth and Brühl do a tremendous job of inhabiting their characters that, when occasionally the film switches to archive footage of the real racers, it is difficult to tell the difference between the legends and the actors who play them.

There is little to say about the strength of the acting in Rush because there is no bad performance. Though some of the characters, particularly the women, are not written very well, the actors and actresses each manage to overcome the writing and deliver a high quality performance.

The script is flawless when it comes to the two lead characters. The dialogue flows naturally from Hemsworth and Brühl, creating very realistic moments – like it is genuinely happening. In the end, this is what the script is supposed to do, so there are no complaints in that department.

Continuing the trend are the visuals, which are nearly perfect with the exception of several relatively clumsy forays during spectacular crash scenes. Due to the presence of real archived footage, the computer-generated imagery seems out of place and obvious, and takes away from immersion. That aside, the cars are beautiful, the clothing appropriate for the period, and the tone of the visuals matches the emotions of the two leading legends.

Ron Howard’s direction is also impressive. Though he does not go for the more dramatic directorial flourishes seen in Apollo 13 or Frost/Nixon, the story he tells in Rush does not need embellishment. Howard’s restraint in this area allows the viewer to focus more on what really matters, which is the development of the characters, and above all, the racing scenes. These scenes reveal more of the story and personal lives of Hunt and Lauda than all of the dialogue scenes combined.

Rush is the best movie I have seen all year thus far. Aside from some technical problems and gaps in an otherwise excellent script, it is a near-perfect sports movie.

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