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Rush: Review, with Interviews, of the latest Formula 1 movie
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Sep 2013   |  4:10 pm GMT  |  127 comments

The latest F1 movie to hit the screens is “Rush”, the story of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, set during the dramatic 1976 season in which Lauda almost lost his life.

The film charts the build up to Lauda’s accident at the Nurburgring and his subsequent recovery.

Here is our review of the film, together with some behind the scenes video with interviews of Niki Lauda, Jenson Button, Christian Horner, David Coulthard and the stars of the film, from the London premiere.

The first thing to say about “Rush” is that the people in it are terrific. Sport is all about personalities and rivalries and the central acting performances in the film; Daniel Bruhl as Lauda and Chris Hemsworth as Hunt are fantastic.

As the film goes on you forget you are watching an actor when you look at Bruhl. In the second half of the film in particular he “becomes” Lauda and his accent is perfect. He also imbues a seemingly cold and unlikeable character with pathos, which is quite a feat.

Knowing Lauda and having known Hunt I can honestly say that the performances are well judged and the dialogue is largely fitting. Hunt is more superficially covered, but the spirit is definitely there and the determination, which always had an underlying aggressiveness.

Some of the cameo roles are a bit cliched, but overall the film is well played.

The central conceit of the film is that the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda was so all consuming that it almost killed Lauda, as he pushed himself beyond the limit to beat the Englishman. But by an ingenious twist, it is also the same rivalrly that saves his life as he battles in hospital to recover (having been given the Last Rites by a priest) because he so badly wants to get back out there and beat Hunt again.

This storyline, from scriptwriter Peter Morgan, works well around this pivot and is coherent. He overplays the dislike between Hunt and Lauda – there are far too many photos of them smiling together in any F1 archive to stand that portrayal up. But this is a dramatisation and it’s okay to have some licence, I suppose.

The dialogue isn’t memorable – no-one will be quoting any lines from the movie down the pub, as they would with Balestre’s monstrous, “The best decision is MY decision” in “Senna”.

There are some fairly graphic moments as Lauda’s lungs are hoovered of fluid, which I watched through my fingers!

On the whole this review is positive save for a few small things:

The film is set in the mid 1970s and has a really nice ’70s look and feel to it. So it’s unfortunate that the Computer Generated Images (CGI) used to create excitement in the track action sequences, wrench you out of the 1970s and into the 21st century. There’s not much Howard could do to avoid this, in fairness, and CGI is the most effective way of having two 1970s F1 cars bang wheels and skid off the track. But it means you come out of the 1970s bubble from time to time.

“Senna” avoided this by being sequential from 1984 to 1994 and never coming out of the contemporary look and feel of the footage.

My biggest criticism of the film, however, is that they rely far too heavily on the clunky mechanism of having reporters and commentators spell out the situation going into the various races in the film. It is always better if the plot and storyline can be moved along by the characters themselves, rather than have some TV reporter pop up suddenly, saying “So the situation going into the Italian Grand Prix is this: James Hunt trails in the points by…” and so on.

It wouldn’t be a problem if it happened occasionally, as in the 1966 film “Grand Prix”, but it happens all the time and the film seems to clunk along from one example to another.

In this day and age there has to be a better way to disclose information to the audience than with recitals from reporters and commentators. It’s like an F1 car, missing a gear every few corners – it spoils the flow.

But these small criticisms apart, it’s a good film – not a great film – which will be of interest to anyone who is well inclined towards motorsport. There is plenty of racing action, good plot and outstanding acting.

Will “Rush” succeed? All the signs are that it will. It comes a suitable time after “Senna”, which reminded mainstream audiences about F1 and made it seem visceral and exciting. “Rush” continues that trend and leaves scope for further motor sport movies in the future.

As the movie business changes, and the delivery mechanisms for the content evolve via internet, Netflix and so on, there is a lot of scope for marrying the right movie content to an established niche audience whist achieving mainstream crossover via the cinemas. If F1 films make sense financially to movie houses, they will continue to back projects.

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I watched it last night and thought it was superb. It left me with a renewed admiration for both Hunt and Lauda, and the film did well not to take the proponent / antagonist route and rely on making a villain of either.

The complained about commentary scripting device didn’t grate at all. I’m wondering whether that might be because viewers that have never been part of ITV’s F1 team are less likely to be snapped back to reality every five minutes by thinking “how the hell did Simon Taylor get this gig?” 🙂

It’s not as special as Senna, but it’s still very very good. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

nicky samengo-turner

Grow up Allen…its called free speech, and I made no personal reference to you whatsoever.

You have a blog, make a living as a journalist, and bleat when you feel that you have been “insulted”?

Maybe a Doctor can cure your PC sensitivity…its very common (sic.) amongst the Heome ceounties lower middle classes…no, not an insult, just “fair comment”…


Does anyone remember the quote towards the end of the film



Something like:

“People always said we were rivals, but James was one of the few people I respected…When I saw him several years later when he was a T.V. commentator, he was riding a bicycle with a flat tyre; still living each day as though it were his last…

When he died, I wasn’t surprised. Just sad.”

nicky samengo-turner

I walked out after 25 minutes…innacurate, childish, badly researched rubbish. It does not cost money to get detail correct…


Such as…?

nicky samengo-turner

Beltoise was BRM team leader, not Regazzoni, the wrong Hesketh in the film, Lauda was at March before BRM..Hunt drove the private march 731 before the hesketh was built….Lauda telling Alan Challis and Gerry van Wenden, BRM mechanics, the mechanics to ‘use more magnesium….mechanics overalls wrong…where shall i stop? My family owned the Yeoman Credit and Bowmaker F1 teams of 60 – 62, and, with respect, I worked in the game some time before you appeared, and I do remember the Rush days….

You come from a generation that produces glaring errors in magazines, and in such critical places as the Silverstone historics commentary, and who still don’t ‘get” that Ford Mk II and Mk, !V sixties sports racing cars are NOT versions of the GT40…. and so it goes on.Bernard Cahier, Jabby Crombac, Pascal Ickx, Denis Jenkinson, and Gregor Grant have some very flimsy idle children as their successors…


With respect – I didn’t write Rush. I merely asked you what the inaccuracies were. There’s no need to insult me

My generation provides far greater insight for F1 fans on multiple platforms, if you think about it


The movie was actually Grand Prix starring James Garner. Watch that then Rush and you’ll see life imitating art…


Brilliant, best motor racing film I’ve seen by a mile, a terrific story and great sound track, recommended.


I agree with the assessment “Good film, not a great one”.

The CGI use in that F3 race (and the crash) was so bad I actually laughed.

Nurburgring 76 was very well done though, and you could see they spent a lot of time and effort getting that right.

I have no idea why they felt the need to show the aftermath of Cevert’s 73 crash at the start of the film and state that it was ‘his fault’. I found this completley unecessary and it upset me a bit.


Haven’t seen it yet, but I can’t believe they said that either. What I read about that incident is that it could’ve been a difference in driving style that helped cause it. Cevert preferred to take the chicane in a lower gear at high revs, while Stewart would take it in a higher gear at lower revs, which kept the car more stable through there.


Hi James – I agree completely with what you said about the commentary in the background. It’s not the way the information is relayed that annoys me, but that it was endlessly repeated. Having information given to you over and over again is really frustrating …

… because it makes me think the film thinks I’m stupid!

But when it wasn’t doing that – and if they’d removed that bloody commentator a bit – it would have been fantastic.

The acting is great, the script is good and it doesn’t shy away the hideous violence that was the result of crashes. Especially when you see the remains of Koniggs crash at Watkins Glen which was just hideous.

But I enjoyed it – ironically thinking that the race sequences were the weakest part of the movie. I did end up, in the final scene in Japan, imagining how you would have commented on it instead!


Is it possible to spot the UK circuits that were used as stand-ins for the historical locations? (E.g. Fuji was Snetterton I believe.)


By the way, did Hunt really beat up that journo in real life??


No, that was a little scene purely for satisfaction of the audience. But apparently Niki did tell a reporter to F-Off in the press conference when asked that very question.


Saw it yesterday and was very impressed. The CGI was epic and Bruhl’s Lauda was amazing.

My only criticism was the mis-casting of Stephen Mangan. Julian Rhind-Tutt is a better serious actor, but having both just made it feel like a Green Wing / Barclays ad reunion.


James – you forgot to tell us the most interesting part… who they cast as Bernie? 🙂


A younger, CGI enhanced Jack Nicholson!


I am glad I was old enough in 1976 to follow the F1 season as it happened. Thank you Autoweek: I used to run home from school on Tuesdays to get my copy from the mailbox, which covered the previous weekend’s races.


I don’t really agree with your review James, you try to draw a lot of comparison between “Senna” and Rush. I don’t really think you can, “Senna” is basically a documentary (and a very good one at that), it uses period footage throughout and actual recorded quotes from Senna himself.

Rush on the other hand is a movie based on the events of the 1976 season. Not being old enough to have first hand experience of that season I can’t say for certain but from what I know I think the film stays pretty true to events. Yes the hatred between them is played up a bit, as you say there are far to many pictures of them together smiling for that to be true, and yes the racing action sections are a bit over the top but the story and hence film would be a little bit boring otherwise for your casual film goer.

I quite liked the commentators taking you through the season actaully, made you feel like you were actually in the crowd at the race.

A lot of parts of the film are very funny, especially Lauda’s dry witted one liners and the bits with the Hesketh team.

Overall I don’t agree with the general opinion on here that the film is poor. Yes for the die hard F1 fans it is a bit lacking on pure racing action and is a little disjointed in places, but if you take the F1 die hard hat off for a minute I think you will find its a very good film. Special credit to the actors, I thought each of their portrayals of Hunt and Lauda were absolutely spot on.

Go and see it!


I said it was a good film. I never said it was poor…?


No you didn’t and poor is perhaps a bit strong but the general opinion seems to be a bit negative.


The trailers put me off this one to be honest but based on this review I will pick it up on blu ray when it lands. Thanks for the review James, this site really does cover all aspects these days, good job feller.


Chris – I would recommend you see it at the cinema. The sound alone is worth the price of admission. It’s the closest representation of the sheer power and fury of an F1 engine I have seen on the screen.

For some reason, it never sounds as good as it does in real life, but at the cinema – it does!


I would not be put off by the review – I have been to see the film today and it was great. It delivers thrills and spills aplenty. I judge how good a film is depending on whether I wanted the film to end – I did not want this one to end 🙂


The thing is Chris, you never see anything F1 on such a big screen at 4K projection. Just on movie making technical level if shooting motorsport it’s worth the price of admission.


Went to see Rush last night and totally loved it. I understand that some people have felt that the film skips through the season too quickly but at 2 hours I don’t think it needed any expanding.

I actually liked the commentators updating on the season because that is exactly what happens and what we hear when we switch on the tv for every race so it made a nice familiar link between f1 now and then, and reflected what the average viewer gets.

With a totally different feel to the average Hollywood film, it really did capture the era well and I came away with a changed opinion of lauda, ( for the better).

The only bit I disliked was the part where Hunt beats up the reporter as I had heard that it never actually happened….however if it didn’t happen, it was completely justified so as a dramatisation I was ok ish about it.

Go and see the film as a great couple of hours to immerse yourself in f1 on a non f1 weekend and accept that some of the details will be overlooked ….I’m pretty sure the actual titanic disaster wasn’t exactly as portrayed in the film but that doesn’t stop it being a good film and its the same with Rush.


I’m pretty sure the actual titanic disaster wasn’t exactly as portrayed in the film but that doesn’t stop it being a good film and its the same with Rush…..

For that matter, I imagine Apollo 13 has more than a little dramatic licence.

I agree, go and see the film 🙂


what about the politics at ferrari on lauda’s return from injury. that would be a great movie in itself. hiring reutemann in lauda’s absence and then derisively offering the job of ‘team manager’ to lauda for the following season.

priceless. no wonder surtees, lauda and others walked away.


Great review James. Good to see some real constructive criticism from within the F1 community. Looking forward to seeing the movie myself.


I think we’re used to things “flowing” too well. Some gear change misses would actually be good.



James, I disagree with the lack of pub quotes.

“Tell the priest to fu€¥ off, I’m still alive”

“The names Hunt, you should be able to remember it,

it rhymes with C@nt which is what you are my friend!”

Plus many more laugh out loud quotes I can’t recall without looking up 🙂


I can see what appeals to you!


The whole cinema was in hysterics with Lauda’s priest comment!


James, every time I go to your site (and every page on it) it gives me an exe file to download and install. It says flashplayer but my computer says it could be a virus.


No-one else has reported that. Will investigate


It’s gone, cheers.


We saw it last night at the Exeter Picturehouse, the staff were dressed in mock Ferrari and McLaren overalls, the stairway and foyer was decked out with chequered flags and they had a superb Rush promo display draped in an Austrian flag and Union Jack. The atmosphere was great!

I thought Danny Bruhl, who played Lauda, was superb. Really believable throughout. Ron Howard did a great job of recreating the crash and recovery, the audience (myself included) gasped a number of times such was the realism. It really is incredible to think what Lauda overcame to survive, let alone go on to win another two F1 world championships. An incredible person.

There were a few parts of the film where my anorak twitched because of inaccuracies or artistic license, but leaving those bits aside, the producers did a superb job. Easily the best motorsport film since Grand Prix and perhaps in its own way, Rush might be the best motorsport movie ever. For all us petrol heads, we need to remember this is a film aimed at the masses, not made solely for us geeks. I think I would struggle to get my other half to sit for 4 hours and enjoy Grand Prix, despite its technical brilliance. If we want to see more Grand Prix cars on the big screen then we should support Rush as much as possible and not be overly critical.


Absolutely spot on 🙂


Thanks for the review James. I’m going to see this tonight with my wife as a belated birthday treat. I’ve been looking forward to seeing it for a couple of months now. I’m hoping it won’t disappoint.


My Top 5 Motorsport Movies

1. LeMans

1. Grand Prix

3. Senna

4. Rush

5. Truth in 24.

Honorable mention; Days of Thunder, Talladega Nights. 😉


I hope it does well and inspires more F1 movies.

Can’t wait for ‘SEBNADO’

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