Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl and Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Ron Howard
Focusing on the rivalry between F1 drivers Niki Lauda (Ferrari) and James Hunt (McLaren) during the 1976 season, this is a gripping and action-packed movie that paints a clear message of the dangers of F1 in the 1970s when two out of the 25 drivers on the circuit would die every year.
As a stark reminder of exactly how dangerous taking this career path was then, the movie opens with a Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) voiceover saying that there is at least a 20% risk of death whenever the drivers take to the track.
The movie takes us back to the time when these two hot-headed drivers meet, at a Formula Three (F3) circuit in Crystal Palace, England. Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Lauda’s individual paths to F1 are then traced.
The movie paints a picture of the personal lives and character traits of these two drivers – Hunt as a daring playboy who was always partying and having fun, while Lauda is depicted as the cool, calculating antisocial recluse who always thinks with the utmost precision.
The centrepiece of this movie is on Lauda’s near-fatal crash at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit and his miraculous return to the track a mere six weeks later.
Well Rounded Movie
By focusing largely on the character development of the two drivers, and not concentrating merely on the racing circuits, I felt that this was a well-rounded movie, appealing to everyone – not just ardent F1 fans.
Hunt’s playboy image is definitely stirred up in the movie and it depicts him proposing to his wife, Suzy Miller, literally on the day that they meet, marrying her (in October 1974) – and then subsequently divorcing the following year (1975) when he discovered she was having an affair with actor Richard Burton.
I must say that the action-packed nature of the F1 circuit definitely makes for some gripping viewing and the near-fatal crash is very well executed, with filming done on F1 circuits and without the effects being all computer generated. In fact, the only computer generated aspect was the crash itself.
I liked the fact that the actors portraying the two drivers did their own stunts using “the real deal” in terms of the F1 cars. So this made the filming more believable too, rather than creating all of these intricate scenes through computer generated effects.
Actors Played Parts Well
Both actors portrayed their characters well. Hemsworth, with his surging blond tresses, is even more handsome than Hunt. However, he may have lacked the sexuality of the driver. Bruhl develops more into Lauda’s character as the movie progresses and he is really the movie’s emotional focus.
Rush truly shows the emotional side of drivers inside those high-speed machines.
I loved the portrayal of how two highly competitive men-machines are always feuding, yet, a grudging friendship with one another can be developed.
As a whole, I thought this was a rather entertaining movie. Non-F1 fans would definitely enjoy the human aspects of the movie, while the F1 die-hards would love the non-stop action on the screen.
Even though many of us may already know how it ended and who eventually won the 1976 drivers championship, it is the sheer drama of the rivalry and the “creative licence” on the part of the directors for hyping up certain aspects of the film – that makes it a grossly interesting movie to watch.
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