2. “Rush” – Director Ron Howard and his producers perfectly cast Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl as real-life 1970s Formula One rivals, James Hunt and Niki Lauda, in a truly spectacular sports film.
Hemsworth plays the strapping blonde-haired – with a ladies’ man swagger and a party boy rep – Hunt, but this driver is also fearless behind the wheel of a race car.
His chief competitor, Lauda, is as intense but otherwise, opposite in almost every way.
First of all, Hunt seemingly cruises through life with his good looks and magical charm, but Lauda physically can not.
Due to Lauda’s overbite and diminutive height, Hunt callously and repeatedly calls him, “The Rat”.
Lauda, however, does not mind the reference and embraces it instead.
He counters with a rat’s positive qualities: intelligence and a survivor’s mentality.
This Austrian applies disciplined logic towards every decision, and Brühl delivers this robotic mindset – which feels like verbal machine gun fire of absolute prophet-like certainty – with a confident and deliberate cadence.
Hemsworth, who starred as Thor in “Thor” (2011) and “The Avengers” (2012), might be the film’s initial star attraction, but Brühl steals the picture and, in this critic’s opinion, should have been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his absolutely riveting performance.
Thankfully, the Hollywood Foreign Press recognized his work, and nominated him for a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe.
Outside of the leads’ work, Howard pulls us 40 years into the past and remarkably intermingles stock footage with newly shot material of blacktop, spinning rubber and fuel propelled land rockets speeding around winding tracks in Japan, Monaco, Brazil, and other exotic locales.
It seems Howard strapped scores of cameras across dozens of cars as they dart through traffic and zip towards finish lines.
The drivers speak about the dangers of their profession, and then the audience feels the hazards throughout the simply amazing race sequences.
As remarkable as the film delivers wild and kinetic cinematography on the track, the intense rivalry between Hunt and Lauda leaps off the screen when they are off the track.
Their story seems so amazing and Hollywood-like to be true, but, it is!
Unfortunately, the frightening dangers of the sport are also true.
The prime example is the site of the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring racing complex.
It is nicknamed “The Graveyard” for a reason.
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