Opening: ‘Rush’ Revs Engines, Hearts, and Minds

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl in Ron Howard's 'Rush' (Universal)
Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl in Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ (Universal)

It all starts with the script, and Peter Morgan (‘The Last King of Scotland,’ ‘The Queen’) has crafted a storyline that is easy to follow, especially for those not familiar with the 1970s, or Europe, or Formula 1 racing, or automobiles.

It consists of a series of episodes detailing the growing rivalry between British driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian racer Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), but under the direction of Ron Howard, ‘Rush’ never feels choppy or episodic. (The writer and director previously teamed on 2008’s Frost/Nixon.) It all flows together marvelously, driven in no small measure by the pervasive period details (that never feel forced or mannered) and Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography, which brims with 70s flavor.

Hemsworth and Bruhl give juicy star turns, playing outsized characters who are perfectly aware of their outsized nature, and embrace it. Hunt is the extroverted one, a friendly fellow who seeks wine, women, and song to accompany his adventures on the race track, while Lauda is more intense and focused on the mechanics of his chosen sport. The sparks fly between them.

Howard has cast his supporting players wisely. Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara shine as primary love interests for the drivers; Natalie Dormer burns up the screen in her all-too-brief appearance.

Most of all, Rush is a smart thriller. It’s aimed at mainstream audiences, but those of us whose hearts race at the revving of an engine will get a special kick out of it.

The film is now playing in theaters across the Metroplex.

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