by Rachel Holtzman
“Twenty-five people start Formula One, and each year, two die,” notes Formula One racecar driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) as he speeds down the track and the cameras blur.
Lauda, an Austrian mechanic/driver, and English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) clash throughout the course of movie. They compete both on and off the track for years before fighting for the 1976 championship title, the threat of failure forcing them in wildly different directions.
The cinematography alone makes Rush a must-see. But what is so well done is the intricate character development of Hunt and Lauda. Hemsworth’s and Brühl’s performances lift this movie from a typical biopic into a tour de force.
Hemsworth’s performance is particularly powerful. He understands the despair which lies behind Hunt’s partying; even when his character is throwing a tantrum or mocking Lauda’s work ethic, Hemsworth’s subtle facial expressions keep the viewer hooked.The standout actor, however, is Brühl, who seamlessly moves between disdain and despair. He brings discipline to every movement, which becomes increasingly important as the film progresses.
Rush gives its leads space to shine individually but still puts them in a room together that crackles with tension and even a hint of grudging admiration. Hemsworth’s and Brühl’s performances turn entertainment into a gripping, emotional ride.