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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Rush | Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Rush | Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara | Review

The flash and fury of Formula One racing in the 1970’s, compounded by a testosterone-fueled rivalry between its two alpha males with vastly different attitudes about the sport, drive director Ron Howard’s (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) latest effort.

Analytical and calculating, Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is scientific in his approach, using aerodynamics, chassis weight, and engine customization.  Great Britain’s James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) simply wants to be fast in every area of his life, especially where women are concerned.  Flirting with death makes him attractive and exciting to the opposite sex; he takes risks in a sport that already risky enough.

Both men come from wealthy families; Lauda is considered a black sheep by his conservative, business-oriented father.  Both men marry; Hunt, to model Suzy (Olivia Wilde) and Lauda to Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara). Hunt’s playboy lifestyle doesn’t change, but Lauda’s new relationship presents him with something that has eluded him his entire life; happiness.  This changes his outlook on racing, but doesn’t prevent unfortunate setbacks.

Lauda and Hunt take turns dominating the 1976 racing season, alternately cursing loudly but quietly respecting the other’s prowess and profligacy.  Grand Prix tracks in Italy, Monaco, France, and Japan attract the fast and loud road warriors with their hairpin tracks, as races proceed despite catastrophic weather conditions.  One of the first lines in the film is a Lauda voiceover telling us that 25 men race in Formula One each year, and that two of them usually die.  No, that’s not a spoiler, just a fact.

Hemsworth ramps up the hedonism as exhilaration-meets-acceleration party boy James Hunt, but it’s Brühl who is a standout as outspoken, arrogant and oh-so-confident Niki Lauda.  Aside from the slick, thunderous racing vehicles, he’s the one that mesmerizes with a formidable yet precise arrogance that replaces likeability with viewer fascination.  Hunt and Lauda are each a “piece of work”, braided together in a crazy quilt of competition, struggle and dominance.

Ron Howard proves that solid direction can and does transcend subject matter, delving into personal demons as well as pit stops.  Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire) captures a dizzying track performance from character and car alike, alternating between external race scenes and internal ones – what the driver sees and experiences – to deliver a sense of roaring speed and ever-present peril.

Audiences don’t have to be versed in Formula One racing to appreciate the human drama in this true tale of two guys on the fast track whose egos collide in the adrenaline-fueled rush to the finish line.

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