The Ron Howard-directed film "Rush" opens nationally this weekend, chronicling the '76 F1 season and the rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, played by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, respectively. THE DAILY offers a grouping of reviews of the movie. ROLLING STONE's Peter Travers writes the film "burns on a high flame of danger, sex and unexpected gravitas." Howard's "toughest hurdle might be the indifference of U.S. audiences" toward F1 (ROLLING STONE, 9/26 issue). ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's Chris Nashawaty writes, "More than in any racing movie since 1966's 'Grand Prix,' the action scenes capture the daredevil kick of sitting in the cramped, claustrophobic cockpit of a Ferrari, zipping around hairpin turns as tires squeal and engines roar" (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, 9/20 issue). In Boston, Ty Burr wrote the film "unexpectedly becomes a drama of human perseverance, inspiring only because it's real." Howard in a way has "made a philosophical drama about the way men move through the world." It is "just a really, really fast drama" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/25). NBCSPORTS.com's Keith Collantine wrote, "The action is superbly realized, particularly in the case" of Lauda's crash, which is "re-enacted in terrifying detail" (NBCSPORTS.com, 9/25). ESPN.com's K. Lee Davis wrote the film "soars in all the right places, makes you think in others and stands among Howard's best work -- no small feat." What it also "should show fans of Formula One too young to have seen it is the transition years of the sport from daredevil death-wish status to a polished, regulated, much safer form of racing." Davis: "Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll with race cars? No. It's more than that." It is a "fabulous work of cinema," and it is "the best racing film ever made" (ESPN.com, 9/24).
DROPPING THE GREEN FLAG: In San Jose, Tony Hicks writes, "The Oscar buzz surrounding the film is warranted" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/27). In Denver, Lisa Kennedy writes the film "fires on all cylinders" (DENVER POST, 9/27). VARIETY's Peter Debruge wrote the "thrill of 'Rush' would stall if the off-road scenes were any less dynamic, but of course, it’s the racing moments that take the film to the next level." To "witness this level of storytelling skill (applied to a subject only a fraction of the public inherently finds interesting) is to marvel at not only what cinema can do when image, sound and score are so artfully combined to suggest vicarious experience, but also to realize how far Howard has come since his directorial debut" (VARIETY.com, 9/3). USA TODAY's Claudia Puig wrote the film "brilliantly captures the exhilaration that comes from facing death head-on." It also is an "ode to joyous rivalry." Puig: "This is Howard's best film" (USA TODAY, 9/20). In N.Y., Manohla Dargis wrote the relationship between Hunt and Lauda is one that screenwriter Peter Morgan "strips down to its satisfying, straightforward core." As for Howard, "Rush" feels like "the movie that he has been waiting to make his whole life" (NYTIMES.com, 9/19). MCCLATCHY's Roger Moore wrote, "If there's a fault to it, it might be that racing fans get little sense of the violently varied racecourses." As much as the film "makes the races cinematic, the filmmakers are hard-pressed to improve on the in-your-face grit and gravel of Fox TV’s outstanding NASCAR coverage." But "Rush" is a "fine and fun film tribute to the milieu, the men, women and machines in a sport that was never deadlier or more glamorous than during its disco-decade incarnation" (MCCLATCHY, 9/26). In Pittsburgh, Barbara Vancheri writes "Rush" is so solidly entertaining that it can make someone who is clueless about racing care" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/27).
IN THE FAST LANE: In Chicago, Richard Roeper gave the film four stars (SUNTIMES.com, 9/26). In Minneapolis, Colin Covert gave the film three and a half out of a possible four stars (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/27). The AP's Jake Coyle gave the film an A- (AP, 9/27). In Cleveland, Clint O'Connor gave the film a B+ (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 9/27). In K.C., Jon Niccum gave the film three-and-a half stars (K.C. STAR, 9/27).
NOT SO FAST: In L.A., Kenneth Turan: "If the elegant cars of Formula One racing are thoroughbreds, 'Rush,' ... is more of a mixed breed." It is "hard to fight the feeling that [Howard's] sensibility is in some fundamental way at odds with the story Morgan's script wants to tell." His "polished Hollywood style is not ideally suited to the edginess this story seems to cry out for." Hunt and Lauda "are extremely arrogant, albeit in diametrically opposite ways." So the film "has difficulty getting us to care about either one of them." "Rush" does "not thrill the blood the way we have the right to expects a film like this to do" (L.A. TIMES, 9/20). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Anderson wrote, "Despite being a schematic exercise in storytelling, 'Rush' does take one calculated gamble: Neither of the protagonists is close to likable" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/20). In Chicago, Michael Phillips wrote the film is "big, brash and dramatically it goes in circles" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 9/26).
HELPING OR HURTING? In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle wrote under the header, "Will New Ron Howard Movie Help Or Hurt IndyCar?" Will the movie "lead to a rush of attention, and better yet ticket sales, for the U.S.-based open-wheel series?" Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said, "It's a positive anytime we can have pop culture talking about auto racing." Schoettle: "But here's the rub. The movie is not about IndyCar racing. It's about Formula One." Univ. of Indianapolis Sports Marketing Programs Dir Larry DeGaris said that casual U.S. fans "could certainly transfer the interest in racing spurred by this movie into an interest in the IndyCar Series, which is more accessible here." But DeGaris added if the movie "positions IndyCar as the junior circuit, or even puts that thought in people’s minds, that’s not such a great thing for IndyCar.” While Boles and "everyone else involved in the IndyCar Series insist that F1 is not a competitor, television viewers can’t help but notice how much hype the series is getting" on NBCSN. Schoettle: "Maybe it’s my imagination, but NBC seems to be promoting F1 races more heavily than the IndyCar Series, which also airs a bulk of its races on the same cable channel" (IBJ.com, 9/26).