RUSH (2013) : REVIEW

October 1, 2013

"Twenty-five people start Formula One, and each year, two die. What kind of person does a job like this?"
James Hunt VS Niki Lauda; sounds familiar? Of course it is, especially when you're an avid Formula One fan, like I am. I haven't born yet when their "greatest-rivalry-ever-occured-in-the-history-of-racing-world" occured, but my father has (he was 15 or so) and he was the one who injected me with their gripping stories. From the little story above, you can tell that I was excited to see this movie. My expectation was high, especially after seeing the rates and early reviews flowing all over the internet, but like what I always say, I won't let it affect my judgement. So, how was it?

Set in 1970s when Formula One was at its golden age, the based-on-real-events story centered on the greatest rivalry between British playboy and risk-taker James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) of McLaren and rat-like and highly-precised Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) of Ferrari. They competed against each other with their distinctive (and completely different) persona and were willing to risk everything in order to be on the center stage.

I felt like I knew the stories, but that wasn't it. Director Ron Howard's approach didn't go near that; it was indeed based-on-true-story, but he wasn't exploring the newspaper-y stuffs people were ranting about. His direction was clear, that he wanted us to be in both drivers' shoes, but not on the racetrack. He offered us a lot of talking and whatever it was in Hunt & Lauda's heads. He wanted us to understand them. We were told about the drivers, not the race or the cars. Yes, you bet it, we didn't get to see much from the racetrack, but when the time came, we got it, whole, fully, very satisfying. As for the script, screenwriter Peter Morgan nailed it. It was straightforward, honest, blantant, right to its core. The rawness were beautiful, very believable. Morgan was trying to deliver the stakes, the danger, on being in Formula One, by putting it into Lauda and Hunt's perspectives. For instance, what are forbidden in F1 now weren't forbidden in F1 then, so the stakes in terms of safety was even higher back then and it showed. It was brilliant, nail-bitting, hand-gripping, any kind of pun ever thought. For the plot; it was steady, stayed on the track, and never lost excitements even when it was slowing down. Perfect.

Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography was STUNNING. The darkened skies with grey cloudy storms, the intensified backdrops, and my favorite : the flickering and trembling lashes of the drivers, getting zoomed on, interjected what we called as a bare beauty, a breathtaking angle. In that stake, we got the complete rawness, the boundaries between reality and fiction, layered by a muted rhapsody. Mantle was also able to make the 70s looked as timeless as possible; we didn't care what era it was, all we cared about was the story, the way we rooted for it. Another thing worth to be praised about was Hans Zimmer's score. This was probably one of his best work; the pumping score blaring aside the roaring engines, the built-up excitement that was intensified with the ear-pounding soundtrack, well done.

One thing I really rooted for in this movie was the characters. Two completely different personalities bounded up in high-risk and intense battle of the year, the closest embodiment in terms of physical appearances yet shocking performances delivered for the heart & soul of the real-life people the characters were inspired by. Hemsworth's was a British who smiled cockily, with pride on track, in bed and while holding bottles of beer with flowing blonde hair while Brühl looked like a beaver with icy cool precision and a determined Austrian analyst. The characters were developed carefully, one step at a time, flawlessly built solid embodiment of both real-life legends. There was no #TeamHunt and #TeamLauda; the script didn't categorized Hunt and Lauda in Villain-Hero terms. We didn't get to take side and we certainly couldn't just root for one. They both had their side of the stories and both were stunningly flawed in such way that we couldn't just overthrow one for the other. As for the women (Olivia Wilde who played Suzy Miller and Alexandra Maria Lara who played Marlene Lauda), they did enough for their portion, highly-compatible spouses for both heroines.

As much as I would love to throw praises over and over again, I would like to comment on Lauda's fuzzy and distracting narrative that just came and dissapeared all over the place. Just that.

Finally said, RUSH was a high-octane, blood-pumping, adrenaline-kicking movie which was beautifully executed with meaningful means, topped with splendid acts and direction. 2 hours weren't enough and this one is certainly recommended.

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