Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Calder, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Alistair Petrie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Colin Stinton, Jamie de Courcey, Augusto Dallara, Ilario Calvo
Written by: Peter Morgan
Directed by: Ron Howard
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use
Running Time: 127
Date: 09/27/2013

Rush (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

On Track

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Working with the great screenwriter Peter Morgan, director Ron Howard creates best and grittiest movie since their Frost/Nixon (2008), or even Apollo 13 (1995). Perhaps Howard was inspired by his earliest days as a filmmaker, working for "B" movie maven Roger Corman and making another car-centric movie, Grand Theft Auto (1977). In any case, Howard seems recharged, delving into complex and multi-dimensional characters.

In the early 1970s, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) rises through the ranks of professional car racing, exhibiting a unique daring and charisma on the track. Meanwhile, the decidedly uncharismatic Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) splits with his respectable family and uses money and influence to buy himself into the racing game. Hunt and Lauda immediately become rivals, and their rivalry helps to spur each other to new heights of greatness. Before long Lauda's conservatism and Hunt's recklessness begin to add up. Hunt's wife (Olivia Wilde) leaves him while Lauda's relationship with Gemma (Natalie Dormer) becomes stronger. But when Lauda suffers a terrible accident, Hunt has only a short amount of time to make up enough points to become champion.

Presumably, the handsome, chiseled Chris Hemsworth would be the easy hero of any movie. Yet he's just as flawed as the would-be villain, played by Daniel Brühl with a great deal of intelligence and sympathy. As with any biopic, the supporting players tend to take a back seat to the leads. But the good news is that the characters are interesting enough to overcome Howard's over-excited attempts to supercharge the racing sequences. Rattling footage from between the wheel wells and the road doesn't exactly capture the feel of a race, but many other moments do the trick.

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