Monday, September 30, 2013

Rush (2013)

Title: Rush (2013)

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara

So I’m not a big sports fan, actually, talking sports with me will result in a big ole blank stare right in your face because I know nothing! I’ll go see a boxing match every once in a while, but most of the time I don’t know who the hell is fighting till the very moment I’m seeing the fight with my friends, for me sports are more of a social thing. Same goes for basketball, football…I am a huge sports void. And yet I found myself attracted to this movie, for various reasons, one of them being that Ron Howard was behind the director’s chair and he’s always been a director that I respect and whose films I enjoy. Also, the previews made it look like a cool movie about race cars, which it was. I wasn’t even aware that the film was based on the true story behind the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the 1976 Formula One Racing Championship, which as it turns out, now I know a little more about.

The real life Niki Lauda and James Hunt

The film centers on these two diametrically opposed racers, one is James Hunt, who lives his life like a rock star, bedding as many ladies as he can, drinking, partying, doing drugs. Basically, Hunt is the kind of guy who wants to have his kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames. And on the other hand we have Niki Lauda, a calculating, disciplined and methodical racer who knows a lot about what makes a race car go faster. He takes only calculated risks and really thinks his way through things, while Hunt has no problems with a) having sex before a race, b) driving hung over or c) pulling off a couple of unsavory tricks in order to win the race. Who of the two will have what it takes to become the world champion? 

The marketing for RUSH makes it look like it’s going to be a James Hunt biopic. I mean what else can you think when Chris Hemsworth’s face takes up the whole poster? Immediately you think Hemsworth is going to be the center of the film, and in a way he is but in a way he isnt. You see truthfully, this is the story of two guys, Hunt and Lauda, but when we really get down to it, the movie might as well have been called ‘The Niki Lauda Story’ because in my opinion, the film has more of Lauda than Hunt. Of course this could have something to do with the fact that Lauda is still alive and served as a consultant for the film, which of course means that the memories and anecdotes are all coming from Lauda’s side of the story. But then again, it could also have something to do with the fact that of the two, Lauda was the better racer. True, Lauda had a near fatal accident in which he was almost burned alive, but everyone seems to agree, had Lauda not had that terrible accident, he would have beat Hunt who up to that point was struggling to keep up with Lauda, who was way ahead of him. In the end, it’s Lauda’s story of overcoming great personal tragedy that brings us some of the more heartfelt and interesting moments in the film.  

Hunts story is that of a playboy racer, the rock start of the racing circuit, having sex like a mad man and partying like its 1999. This is the reason why he was the peoples favorite; people liked him because of this party animal persona. In contrast, Lauda seemed like this uptight dude who took things to seriously. The film does focus on the rivalry between Lauda and Hunt, but it also shows that they had admiration for each other. The competition between the two pushed them to their limits, and while they were battling over who’d become the world champion, they also admired each other because they knew they were competent rivals. But when we compare both stories, Hunts story seems superficial when compared to Lauda’s tale of survival. After seeing the film, I liked Hunt but felt that Lauda’s the one worthy of admiration. I mean, the guy went through all that he went through and he still continued racing! Lauda was so driven that just a few weeks after his terrible accident, he put his helmet back on and kept on racing. A truly admirable feat considering the degree of burns he acquired in the accident. In that sense, Lauda’s story reminds me of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1994), where we learn how Bruce Lee overcome a horrible back injury yet went on to become a legend anyways, nothing was going to stop him. These are stories of remarkable human beings with real talent who suddenly face themselves with a potentially life destroying event. What I like about stories like these is that they portray characters whose wills were so strong, that nothing deterred their plans for living an exceptional life.

In terms of direction, the movie has a very unique look to it, emulating the look of films from the 70’s. Ron Howard puts the camera in some very interesting places on this one. When it comes to the races, they get pretty exhilarating, loved how Howard put the camera on the cars and the helmets of the racers. There’s lots of extreme close ups on this film, so you might get to feel like your right there in the car with the racers. Bottom line is , I might not love sports, but I do love movies that show how we can achieve anything if we put our minds to it, and RUSH is one of these movies. The real life aspects of the film were actually truthful this time around. By this I mean that often times films that are based on real life events take so many artistic liberties that they end up being extremely different from the “real life events” they are aiming to depict, but from what I hear, RUSH is actually pretty accurate portrayal of Hunt and Lauda’s story. So much so that Lauda himself loves it and has a approved of it: "When I saw it the first time, I was impressed. There was no Hollywood changes, or things changed a little Hollywood like. It is very accurate, and this really surprised me positively" - Niki Lauda (Carjam TV Interview, September, 2013) So at least you know you are getting the true blue story behind the whole thing, Niki Lauda gave it the okay, and considering what a stickler he is for detail, I’d take that as a good thing. And considering how I’m a stickler for good movies, I’d take my high rating as a good thing as well!  

Rating: 5 out of 5

James Hunt exploiting his playboy image

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