Monday, September 30, 2013

Rush review

Ron Howard has had one of the most dynamic, interesting and layered career in Hollywood history as both a director and an actor. He's acted in TV shows such as Happy Days and Arrested Development, has starred in movies such as American Graffiti, and has directed a wide variety of films. He's directed some pretty good films (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13) through the years and some films that haven't quite been as popular with critics. Now, Howard's back with an F1 racing drama called Rush. It stars up and comers Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) and Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basters, The Bourne Ultimatum) as rival race car drivers who will do anything to beat the other. With Rush, Howard has delivered a film that has all the makings of an instant classic. It's got good performances, a great score, fast pacing, thrilling action and a well executed story. It's the kind of movie that I wish more people saw these days. Without a doubt, Rush is one of the finest films of the year.

Rush follows the story of James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Bruhl). Hunt is the party guy; a loose carefree personality who loves the booze, sex and drugs that he gets from being a part of the sport. Lauda is the cold, calculating jerk who essentially bought his way into the sport. However, Lauda knows his way around making a car and essentially adds his way up into being a race car legend. The two start out as F3 racers but both manage to join the F1 lineup after a fateful encounter at an F3 race. Soon, the two drivers will become consumed by their rivalry; Lauda and Hunt will stop at nothing to best the other person. However, this is a story of how the men came to respect each other through fateful accidents, competition and a love of the sport.

No movie is without flaws. Rush has a few minor ones. It feels slightly condensed. At times it seems like Howard is trying to pace the movie a bit too fast. With an extra ten or fifteen minutes of high quality scenes, Rush might just be perfect. However, that remains a flaw. And the film gets a little scattered between all the race scenes in its second act. And that's just about it. Other than that, Ron Howard has made a thrilling, offbeat, fantastic film that's destined to be around come awards season. It mixes spectacular film-making, purely interesting storytelling with fantastic pacing and entertainment value for an all around spectacular theater experience.

Chris Hemsworth proves that he can act with this role. His James Hunt is incredibly charismatic and funny, but there's also a dark side to him that you can visibly see. He's scared for his life every time he gets in a car and that's why he vomits before every race. That's why he obsessively clicks his lighter. Hunt is a daredevil who is scared of what he does. Daniel Bruhl also brings a multi-dimensional performance to the table. He wants to be the cold, calculating racing mastermind, but he's also human. And that is all shown during one scene with his wife. All of these character traits are made possible by the incredible script written by Peter Morgan and the performances of Hunt and Bruhl. You probably won't notice this instantly in the theater, but you certainly will once you start discussing the film. It's very interesting to delve underneath the surface of this, because it is certainly more than just a sports drama, which on the outside, is what it may seem to be.

And yet it is a sports drama. As much as Rush is a character study of two men driven to insane measures by a competitive spirit and by each other, it's also a really entertaining race car drama. Rush is entertaining to start to finish. It's a compelling and interesting, while at the same time is something that I could watch at any time. That's rare for a sports drama. The only ones that I think of on the same level of Rush are Moneyball and Hoosiers. Rush also works as a thrilling action movie. It's packed with thrills from beginning to end, and while I wasn't on the edge of my seat during the quiet scenes, I certainly was during the racing ones. The first race scene is quite spectacular actually. It throws you off guard immediately. The engines roar through the theater. The rubble burns. And I instantly knew that this was going to be one of the best movies of the year.

In a lot of ways for me, Rush represents the kind of movie that we just don't see enough of these days. It's that kind of compelling action drama that delves into characters and into people, but is also thrillingly entertaining. Howard has done it twice before in different genres with A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13, and he does it again with Rush. It's a movie that instantly belongs in the same category as those films, because it's got everything at the highest level technically and dramatically.

Rush is a movie of the highest caliber in every way. It's a different kind of sports movie, it's spectacular entertainment, it's thrilling and well-written drama and it has edge of your seat action. So why did it make $10 million this weekend? With Rush, I see everything wrong with the American cinematic landscape. People don't think they want to see a movie about F1 and so they go see garbage like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. My hope is that through people like me, you will go out to see Rush. But I doubt it. It's a sad tragedy, because I know that twenty years ago, this film would have been a major hit. I've got nothing against blockbuster movies, because a lot of them are tons of fun and actually quite good. It just saddens me to see a film so great be so neglected.

In the end, Rush is the first must see movie of the fall. It's got everything that you could possibly desire. No heroes, no villains, and a spectacular focus on its two main characters. Most of the other characters actually don't get much screentime. It is rated R for four scenes involving nudity and sex, some truly disturbing medical images, brief drug use and some language peppered throughout. It's fine for most mature teenagers, but don't think that this is a feel-good, bring the kids sports drama. Because it's not. It's compelling drama that amounts to an instant classic, but it's not for children.

I beg of you all, go see Rush, simply because I know that you will love it. It's spectacularly shot, ridiculously entertaining and is an interesting portrait of two men driven to insane measures to win. It's an action drama of the highest caliber. A true adrenaline rush.

THE FINAL GRADE:   A+                                           (10/10)




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