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A revamped “Tortoise and the Hare” story, using formula one race cars.


Ron Howard’s latest offering, Rush, is full of the high octane, death defying driving you’d expect from a racing movie. However, he manages to put the Formula One setting in the back drop in order to focus on the lives and epic rivalry between British driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl).

In the beginning, it’s very clear, Howard doesn’t choose sides, letting the audience do that for themselves through the characters voices. You get to see and hear each driver’s perspective throughout the film. There are no bad nor good guys in this one, just people making good or poor decisions. I found myself constantly alternating my allegiance to each driver almost all the way to the end. That’s how fascinating each driver was, and both were well portrayed under Howard’s guidance. The fact that Rush is based on Hunt and Lauda’s amazing 1976 Formula One season just makes it that much more interesting.

Each driver’s style just begged to pit Lauda and Hunt against each other. From the onset, in Formula Three racing, Hunt establishes himself as a rampant womanizer, partier, and generally more aggressive driver of the two. His devil-may-care attitude seems to be at odds with the precision it takes to drive at a high level, yet he has no qualms about tackling each turn or straight away to the limits that his car will allow.

Lauda, on the other hand, is more rigid and methodical in his approach, taking only calculated risks that he can comfortably allow. Also, being technically superior to other drivers, Lauda understood how to eke out small mechanical advantages that, accompanied by his excellent driving skill, would always allow him to finish near or at the top.

By the time Hunt joins the McLaren team, Lauda has already netted himself a championship, and in 1976, the year this rivalry comes to a head, we witness quite possibly one of the most fascinating stories about the character and drive of these two men that I’ve ever seen to my recollection – but then again, I’m always enthralled by compelling “true story” movies. It’s no wonder that some F1 fans consider this a great rivalry.

The movie is not without its faults though. I found myself not caring about any other scene that didn’t directly correlate to Hunt and Lauda’s immediate story. Towards the end, Hunt’s narrative suspiciously dies off quite sneakily, turning it subtly into Niki Lauda’s story. Perhaps Howard picked a side after all, or maybe, just maybe, it’s Howard’s way of letting us know that the Tortoise still won.

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