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Reviewing Rush the Movie (and throwing my two cents into the Rush vs Senna debate)

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR | Non-NASCAR

Rush Movie Poster: Everyone's driven by something.

The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It’s a wonderful way to live. It’s the only way to drive. – James Hunt, Rush 2013

I have been giddy like a school girl ever since I found out about Ron Howard’s Rush. I might be primarily into NASCAR these days- but my first race was open wheel (CART) and I am willing to watch pretty much anything with wheels if given the opportunity- whether that be at the track, on television or yes in the movie theater. I don’t go to many movies in the theater so when Misty mentioned maybe going to see Rush while I was in town for a visit and the truck series race I practically screamed affirmations at her with excitement  since she obviously wanted to see the movie too.

Even though I have been extremely excited about the movie I have purposely kept myself on a bit of a media hiatus from it’s coverage only because I wanted to go in and watch it untainted.  I didn’t want to know what the movie was about beyond the basics (fast cars? rivalry? I am so in!) and I especially didn’t want to know what other people were thinking either good or bad about the movie. I was pretty successful in doing that- so when I sunk down in the seat at the South Point Casino movie theater in Las Vegas- I knew basically what I had seen in the previews offered of the movie and that was it.

I found the movie to be very good and extremely entertaining. The rivalry between drivers Hunt and Lauda drove the film, yet it did not fail to successfully illustrate the intense swings of emotion involved in motorsports racing- the extreme elation of victory and heartsick despondency of defeat.  On top of that- the movie was just well put together. It had a great feel for the hedonistic era best I could tell as someone who was only 2 years old in 1976. The close ups of working engine parts cut with the races added to the intensity felt while watching the racing scenes. Overall the film was just really good- it was quite easy to get lost into the plot- something that I like in a movie (just like my books).  The actors playing James Hunt and Niki Lauda did so well- as I thought their characters were very believable and just worked. Chris Hemsworth did an awesome job with playboy driver James Hunt and Daniel Bruhl made driven Niki Lauda just as believable.

Yes- I said characters. Because while Rush is based on a true story- it is not a documentary and I am sure that certain liberties were taken. After all it is a movie and not a documentary.  I only bring this up because just a few days ago, I saw a couple people on twitter debating whether Rush was better or worse than Senna (both thought Senna was better- both were media members).  I had not actually watched Senna yet- although it’s been on my DVR for quite awhile so I came home on Friday and watched Senna.  Comparing the two films to me is like comparing apples and oranges because one is story based (Rush) and one is an obvious documentary.  While Rush tells a story, Senna illustrates an actual life.  From Rush we get the love story, we get the rivalry, we get the racing – we get involved in the world of James Hunt and Niki Lauda as portrayed in the film.  And while Senna was extremely good- do not get me wrong- it is an obvious documentary.  There is no fantastical storyline/plot.  Yes there is rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, the elation and defeat that comes with racing, the career of Ayrton Senna  including his death.  There is also something more that you get in Senna- in that you see the behind the scenes politics of F1 as it related to Ayrton Senna’s career.  I think that Senna and Rush can exist side-by-side. Not only are the decades in F1 different, but one is a movie- made for pure entertainment (Rush) while the other is a documentary on the career of Senna up to his death in 1994 as told by Ayrton himself as well as those who knew him best.  They are different types of movies telling different stories; different sides of the same coin. To me it’s not one movie versus the other- both tell the story they are meant to tell, and do it exceptionally well.

As a warning- there were a couple scenes in Rush that got to me, but then again I am a bit squeamish when it comes to blood and guts. Of course you are talking about a person (me) who loves the soap operatic quality of the television show Grey’s Anatomy but can not stand to watch the blood and guts scenes- they nearly make me sick. For that reason- the wreck during Rush- where the driver who’s name escapes me has obvious compound leg fractures (a not uncommon injury for those type of cars during that time perioid) nearly did me in- especially in the light of Tony Stewart’s recent injury.  Then the scenes in Rush of the vacuuming out of Lauda’s lungs- that part- was too intense for me (and apparently for Lewis Hamilton too- see the interview with Niki Lauda I link to at the end of this article).   Likewise and probably even more terrifying to me however, were the couple of scenes in Senna of some of the worst accidents I EVER want to see as a motorsports fan.  There is one scene that I just can NOT get out of my head- that of driver Martin Donnelly, post-crash lying in the middle of the track in Spain (I think) limp, his leg very obviously broken, still in his seat.  It is an extremely disturbing vision to me and I can NOT get the visual out of my mind- nearly a day later. When I saw Martin Donnelly lying limp mid track the only part of the car around him the seat he was strapped into – the quote at the top of this post from James Hunt kept running through my head.

That likely unintentional impact and my squeamishness aside,  I think that both movies are really must see movies in both of there genres and I recommend them both.

Of Interest:

An interview with Niki Lauda about Rush.

Some pictures from the premiere of Rush:

Jenson Button Attends the premeire of RUSH by Ron Howard

Jenson Button attends the Rush World Premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 2, 2013 in London, England. (Photo Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images Europe)

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez attend Rush Premiere

F1 drivers Sergio Perez and Jenson Button attend the Rush World Premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 2, 2013 in London, England. (Photo Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images Europe)

Niki Lauda and wife attend the premeire of Rush.

Niki Lauda (R) and wife Birgit attend the Rush World Premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on September 2, 2013 in London, England. (Photo Credit: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images Europe)

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