Right off the bat, let’s address the query that’s inevitably posed of all sports movies: Must one have a vested interest in the sport to enjoy said film? In the case of Rush
, the answer is, “Of course not,” because if Ron Howard were banking on audience knowledge of the international Formula One racing scene of the 1970s to sell this biopic, EDtv
suddenly wouldn’t seem like his worst misstep. Instead, the movie, based on the six-year battle for F1 supremacy between stern Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and walking British hard-on James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), deals with much more familiar (one might say tired) themes: the nature of professional rivalry, the sociopathy of competition and the definitions of masculinity. Replace the subjects with, say, John McEnroe and Björn Borg, and not much changes, save all the fast driving—though it might have caused Howard to (ahem) slow down a little. Ninety percent of the film takes place on racetracks and in press conferences, and the moments meant to underscore the personal relationships driving (ahem) these two diametrically opposed men feel, ahem
, rushed. The screenplay is by Peter Morgan, whose words transformed Howard’s Frost/Nixon
—essentially a two-hour sit-down interview—into a white-knuckle boxing match. Apparently, though, his skill doesn’t work in the other direction: Drowned out by all the vroom-vroom
, his dialogue can’t turn what’s essentially an intermittently entertaining actioner into the character-driven, ’70s-style talkie Howard envisions it being.