Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 4, 2013

Critic's Corner

Rush lives up to its name

Here’s a quick-and-dirty “Rush” F.A.Q. for the readers of this column. If you don’t feel like scanning the whole thing and just want to know whether or not I recommend seeing the movie – omigosh yes. It’s great!

Q: So what is “Rush?”

“Rush” is a movie based on the true story of a rivalry that developed between two skilled Formula One racers in the 1970’s: James Hunt and Niki Lada. The men couldn’t have been more different – Hunt was a brash Briton who took great risks on the track, and Lada was a calculating technical genius who relied on precision. Socially, Hunt was the life of every party, while Lada had few friends due to his chilly personality. But they shared a love for racing – and winning.

Q: Was “Rush” really directed by the guy who played Richie Cunningham on “Happy Days?”

Yes. But Ron Howard long ago earned his stripes as a director, so you can forget about squeaky clean Cunningham. Moreoever, he’s never been more visibly confident than with “Rush.” Howard not only had a solid grasp of the characters, he also knew how to use the camera to tell their story. There are moments when a brief, simple shot says more than pages of dialogue could have. Also, “Rush” is visually creative –  I especially liked the shots from inside the racing helmets – but it isn’t slick. Rather, the movie has a slight grit reminiscent of films made during the ‘70s. Also, while the races were well shot and edited, the cars are never the focus of those scenes; rather, Howard kept his eye on Hunt and Lada. Essentially, Howard made all of the right decisions when making this movie.

Q: How’s the dialogue? Bad writing can ruin a great-looking movie.

I loved the dialogue. “Rush” is a character study, and in each scene, the words act like paintbrushes, coloring the two men with bold strokes that reveal their nature. If anything, the dialogue is too well-written, as people rarely talk with that level of snap, eloquence, or insight. But lines like “Happiness is the enemy,” which Lada says during his honeymoon, tell viewers everything they need to know.

Q: I’m concerned about the acting. Can the guy who played Thor in the Marvel movies do anything but look pretty?

Absolutely! Chris Hemsworth not only nails his lines but also displays a great deal of range and confidence as Hunt. He was a pleasure to watch. When I see movies starring celebrities like Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford, I never see the character the actor is playing, I always see the actor playing a character. Hemsworth has a few hits under his belt, but he’s still at the stage of his career where he can sink into a character and take the audience with him – which was a great asset to “Rush.” Daniel Brühl does just as brilliantly with Lada.

Q: I’m not a racing fan. Why should I see “Rush?”

When my dad bolted out of church, I knew a race was going to be on TV. That sums up my knowledge of the sport. But you don’t have to be a fan of racing to appreciate a great movie – and “Rush” is a great movie. It was a passion project for Howard, and it shows in every frame.

Q: “Rush” sounds good, but none of my friends want to see it, so I doubt I’ll go.

“Rush” is not a hit. I watched it alone in a movie theater on a Monday. But don’t let going by yourself stop you from experiencing it on a big screen in a theater with a great sound system. Not only will you be immersed in an extraordinary audiovisual experience, but you’ll enjoy larger than life characters as they were meant to be seen.

Four stars out of four. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, disturbing images and drug use.