Ron Howard’s “Rush”: First Impressions

rushstills

The first sneak-peek of Ron Howard’s latest film was released this week to positive reviews, but have the short glimpses of the film suggested “Rush” will be more Hollywood than Monte Carlo?

Before I start, I’ll point out that I’m aware this film is not a documentary and has been created purely for entertainment purposes.

Quotes

Formula One fans worldwide have been waiting for Ron Howard's take on the 1976 championship, but will it live up to the hype?
Formula One fans worldwide have been waiting for Ron Howard’s take on the 1976 championship, but will it live up to the hype?

Racing drivers tend to put danger to the back of their mind and perhaps like to believe they’re unlikely to be in a serious accident, but I don’t recall James Hunt ever saying accidents are “something that happen(s) to other people”. Quite the contrary, Hunt retired mid-way through 1979 because he wasn’t willing to risk his life in a sport that wasn’t giving him anything in return. It seems strange to have a person supposed to be James Hunt saying such a quote in 1976, especially given he was so shaken by Niki Lauda’s accident at the Nurburgring half-way through the year.

As I’ve said already, I’m aware this is not a documentary and has been created purely for entertainment, but I found this to be a poor start to the trailer. It’s a film about a rivalry between two drivers – jumping straight to the death aspect looks to be a desperate attempt to gain interest based on shock value.

A much better Hunt quote could perhaps have been taken from 1976,

I’m frightened, I don’t mind telling you. I’m glad to see the finish line every lap. But whether they’re frightened of the Ring or not, everybody wants to win here. When it comes right down to it, you either don’t come, or you get on with the job of racing.

The trailer continues to play on the element of death, featuring a quote from Niki Lauda-playing actor Daniel Brühl.

Each year, two of us die.

Not necessarily an incorrect statement (though 12 drivers were killed in the ten years leading up to 1976, not 20), but I still found it unnecessary to be included in a trailer. Perhaps it caught the non-F1 audience interested in fast cars, crashes and death; that’s what motorsport is all about, isn’t it?

Hemsworth Sounds Nothing Like Hunt

It was a good shot, but having an Australian play the role of a Britton who talked in an upper-class tongue is disappointing. Hunt’s voice enhanced his character and to a non-F1 fan this factual flaw may be overlooked, but it’s not going to be easy listening to two hours of True Blue Aussie Jazza Hunteridoo. Don’t be surprised if he throws a shrimp on the barbie at some point, or rides off on a kangaroo. Streuth!

Hemsworth looks an impressive Hunt, but his voice is where he falls short.

Hemsworth looks very much like Hunt, but his voice is where he falls short.

Admittedly, Hemsworth was probably as close as Ron Howard was going to come to casting an actor that looked so like Hunt and it was between visual or audible similarity when finding a James Hunt double. Howard would have been very lucky to have been able to get this one right, but some critics just can’t be satisfied.

Characterisation

I found issue with another quote of Hemsworth, assumedly said to a member of McLaren’s management,

I can beat this guy. Trust me.

I had a problem with James referring to Niki as “This guy”, especially considering they were close friends in 1976 and thereafter. Is it common for people to refer to their friends as “this guy” or by their actual name? If it’s not the latter, I’ve been dreadfully out-of-touch for the duration of my life.

Footage

Above all, footage from what we must assume is the beginning of the German Grand Prix was worryingly Stallone. You know what I’m talking about.

When the lights go out, tyres spin and smoke regularly fills the air – but rarely have Formula One drivers done burnouts away from the line – especially not those of Hunt and Lauda’s caliber. I’m half-expecting a scene in which the drivers pull alongside each other, followed by person A pressing their accelerator more, surging them ahead.

Are Hunt’s Sexual Endeavours A Main Focus?

Away from the track, there were a number of images suggesting James Hunt’s notorious sex life will play a major part in the film. I pray to the Lord this isn’t the case; every time you hear about Hunt’s extracurricular activities, they’re explained as more elaborate with each retelling. I’m not sure why I concern myself. I know it’s going to be filled with it.

The Positives

But the trailer didn’t suggest the film was unimpressive. From what we are able to see, the racing scenes themselves do look cinematically impressive. Ron Howard has had a lot of time to work on this film and you can’t expect anything to have been done half-heartedly.

Rush's make-up team have done a splendid job with Daniel Brühl's face.

Rush’s make-up team have done a splendid job with Daniel Brühl’s face.

As well, I must throw compliments to the make-up men and women who have crafted a brilliant James Hunt and Niki Lauda out of the two lead actors. Post-accident Lauda looks especially lifelike and it’s a credit to the work of the entire crew.

Conclusion

Overall, the Rush trailer left me underwhelmed. Perhaps it was its overly-emotional undertones, the worryingly Hollywood plotline suggested, the boy from Down Under playing a man from Surrey or the fact that all that has been seemed largely took away from the basic premise of the film – racing. There’s no doubt I’ll see the film – and probably on the day it comes out – but I won’t be waiting with high expectations. A film based on Hunt’s life – now there’s an idea.

 

All images appearing in this article are property of Universal Studios.

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