'Rush' overemphasizes the differences between two auto racing rivals

'Rush' centers on Formula One drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt, who faced off in the 1970s.

Jaap Buitendijk/Universal Pictures/AP
'Rush' stars Chris Hemsworth (l.) and Daniel Brühl (r.).

Formula One racing fans have deified the 1970s rivalry between Austria’s Niki Lauda and the Englishman James Hunt, and, in “Rush,” director Ron Howard has upped the iconography. Even though the film is essentially an anti-buddy buddy movie, the buddies here are given a glow.

Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is as detached and methodical as Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is glamorous and carousing. Racing each other in ever-spiraling death-defying competitions, they achieve a kind of yin-yang wholeness. One man doesn’t exist entirely without the other.

Howard overemphasizes the disparity between the two men. (Didn’t Lauda like to party even a little bit?) And the script by Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon”) is surprisingly lame, with instantly unmemorable dialogue. The racing scenes also lack vroom. “Rush” isn’t bad, exactly, but it’s like a standard-issue male action programmer that somehow crept in from an earlier era. Grade: B- (Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use.)

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