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'Rush' Gets Points For Style, Doesn't Win Our Hearts


Formula One racing is having its moment on American movie screens. The documentary "Senna" was a hit a few years back, and now "Rush" is in theaters. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: The elegant cars of Formula One racing are thoroughbreds. But "Rush," the new film set in that world, is more of a hybrid. It attempts to combine Hollywood style with an independent film sensibility with mixed results. The Hollywood style comes from director Ron Howard. He brings his usual glossy professionalism to this real-life rivalry between Austria's Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Bruhl, and Britain's James Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth. These drivers hate each other from the first moment they meet.


TURAN: The problem between these two isn't just that both men are obsessively driven to win the racing title. It's that they view life so completely differently that they can't help but get on each other's nerves. The charismatic James Hunt has as much raw talent as any driver of his generation, but he's hot-headed and averse to discipline. Lauda, by contrast, is a superb technician with zero gift for people and a tendency to insult folks without even trying. "Rush" centers on the most famous race between these two, the 1976 German Grand Prix, but also takes time to show us their personal lives, like the unorthodox way Lauda courted his wife, played by Alexandra Maria Lara.


TURAN: In a satisfying scene, Ron Howard, bringing his mass-market abilities to this adult subject. But his polished approach is not ideally suited to the edginess that this story cries out for. While "Rush" gets points for style, it doesn't win our hearts.


INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.