More noise than signal


Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Formula One has, of course, been formally recognised by the U.N. as the world’s most boring sport, if you can call overpaid primadonnas pootling round in a circle a sport. With races taking upwards of fifteen hours to complete, if racing is the correct term for this engine parade, it’s an only slightly less reprehensible pastime than cricket.

Rush, of course, referring to Megaman’s dog in the classic Nintendo series, tells us of the rivalry between English playboy James Hunt, a thrill seeking instinctual driver played by Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Niki Lauda, a technical genius almost unhealthily obsessed with the sport played by Daniel Brühl.

It starts off with their earliest meetings in Formula Three, and their instant dislike for each other, which makes for a good setup in a biopic even if it is a total fabrication. Naughty Ron Howard and Peter Morgan. Straight to bed with no supper for you, lads.

We’re also introduced to Hunt’s turbulent marriage to supermodel Suzy Miller, and Niki’s rather less whirlwind marriage to Marlene Knaus as the pair’s careers progress towards the 1976 Formula One season, with Lauda driving for Ferrari and Hunt moving from the defunct Hesketh team to Ferrari’s near eternal F1 rival, McLaren, which resurfaces their interpersonal conflict.

It’s a tense, back and forth season, at least when distilled down to a hour, and one thrown into chaos after Lauda’s terrible crash at the Nürburgring which saw him suffer severe burns to his face and lungs. In a triumph of guts over sensibility, a still bloodied Lauda returns to racing in six weeks to try and nail down the driver’s championship, but a combination of Lauda’s sensible precaution in the season’s final race and Hunt’s recklessness and drive sees Hunt triumph, proving himself in the eyes of the world and most importantly, himself.

It’s a pleasure to revisit Rush, and is just as accessible to a non-F1 fan now as it was then. It’s no surprise that Daniel Brühl gives a great performance, perhaps a bit more so from Hemsworth, after his subsequent vanishing into Marvel’s black hole of filmmaking, but here he is very good indeed.

I believe my criticism at the time was that it doesn’t do a great job of showing the progression of time in the early running, and it still doesn’t, I suppose, but on reflection it’s just skipping through to the interesting bits, and if you’ve decided to play this us as a drama rather than a documentary, that’s fair enough. Well done Ron Howard and Peter Morgan. Come down and have your supper.

Concerns about absolute veracity aside, it’s a really enjoyable watch, and well worth your time.