Duncan native Ron Howard delivers one of the best movies of his career as an Oscar-winning director with his fact-based racing drama “Rush.”
Set in the 1970s — the glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing — Howard’s first movie since 2011′s “The Dilemma” chronicles the real-life rivalry between charismatic Englishman James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, “The Avengers”) and methodical Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl, “Inglourious Basterds”).
Howard, 59, sort of specializes in affecting sagas about men under extreme pressure – think “Apollo 13,” “Cinderella Man” and “A Beautiful Mind” – and his innate skill at making those hero’s struggles real and urgent to audiences is again on display with “Rush.” “Rush” makes you care about Formula 1 racing even if you don’t care about Formula 1 racing. And the racing sequences are breath-stealing.
Hemsworth does a terrific job of digging into the depths of the womanizing, hard-drinking and determinedly shallow Hunt, but Bruhl steals the film with his intense portrayal of the pragmatic Lauda, who doesn’t care at all about being liked. Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan (Howard’s 2008 fact-based film “Frost/Nixon”) show particular restraint in depicting the love story between Lauda and his wife Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara), and the understated romance surprisingly emerges as one of the film’s strongest elements.
There’s still a lot of year left for moviegoing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if “Rush” zips onto my Top 10 list.
“Rush” opened today in Oklahoma City. Here are some clips and featurettes: