Best of 2013 Movie Review: Rush

Behind great masterpieces, from Apollo 13 and The Da Vinci Code, to minor disappointments like the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas, director Ron Howard has the dedication and skill of an amazing and visual director. Now, with last year's Rush, Howard has again proven he can create visually stunning depictions of real-life legends.

Rivals to each other from their first encounter, playboy racer James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and strategic rookie Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) take to the track in this high-octane thriller about risk, tragedy, and the will to win. What begins as child's play on the fast track towards winning and popularity, ultimately leads to two rivals who find out what is truly at stake once you're behind the wheel. Depicting the true and frightening story of two tragic heroes of the track, Rush grabs hold of you from the start, takes you on a heart-stopping ride, and then finishes off with an earth-shattering halt that will leave you breathless.

Of the racing films I saw last year, which was surprisingly limited to Fast and Furious 6 (which may not count to some people), Rush was one of the best I've seen so far. With its fast, loud, and sleek design, the cars of the Formula One model made this film what it is, a roaring speed demon of thrills and vigorous driving. The racing scenes were probably the most prominent feature of this film, unleashing Ron Howard's visual skills, along with his excellent way of shooting a fast-paced race. While the races were of course fast-paced, so were the sequences of the races. Cycling between races and going from Spain to Japan in nearly 30 minutes, Ron Howard speeds through time, but still manages to keep the story grounded. While the races go fast, the story remains at a nice speed that allows the audience to appreciate the characters and the struggles surrounding them.

The cast of the film was surprisingly good, like it always is for most historical biopics. The two leading rivals, James Hunt and Niki Lauda are played by the charming Chris Hemsworth (Thor: The Dark World) and brilliant newcomer Daniel Brühl (The Fifth Estate). The casting of these two was probably the best choice Ron Howard made, bringing in Hemsworth for the role of a playboy and Brühl as a strategist on the track. Both did excellently, playing tough roles of real-life rivals who despise each other at first, then later learn something from one another. While Hemsworth delivered as an excellent, cocky, sex-crazed Hunt, it was Brühl who stole the show for me, playing a smart, calculated Austrian who suffers a tragic accident in the film. Delivering an inspiring narration telling of his experiences with Hunt, racing, and his wife (Alexandra Maria Lara), Brühl embodies Lauda with his voice and his determined actions on and off the track. Another star of the film, Olivia Wilde, who plays Hunt's wife, was great in the film, falling for Hunt at first, but then realizing that it wasn't worth it because of his risky and arrogant behavior.

Once again, the masterful score of Hans Zimmer has hit my eardrums and claimed my praise. Scoring some of my favorite films, from Man of Steel to The Dark Knight Rises, along with one of last year's best films 12 Years a Slave, Zimmer is still one of my favorite composers, bringing such powerful sounds to the thrills on-screen. This time around, the thrills meet the race track, as Zimmer's fast-paced music pounds as the racers speed past you in a blazing blur of metal and burnt rubber. Zimmer also delivers peaceful sounds that accompany the emotional parts of the story, and profound "blares" at just the right moments. Without Zimmer's music, I don't think this film would be nearly as good as it is with it. I'm looking forward to Zimmer's next projects, from his next Christopher Nolan collaboration of Interstellar to the new Spider-Man sequel as well.

Overall, the film is the perfect racing film for any thrill-seeker or car-lover out there. Bringing together the perfect mix of excellent casting, amazing visuals, profound music, and intelligent writing, Rush is a film I was happily glad I finally saw in theaters, in order to experience every mesmerizing detail of this inspiring yet tragic tale of racing rivals and determined survivals.

I gave this film a 9 out of 10 because of its mesmerizing characters fueled by desire and fame, its stunning visuals that made racing even more exciting, and its amazing depiction of the most vigorous rivalry in all of Formula One racing history.          

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