ON THE BIG SCREEN By Gavin Miller

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RUSH (15)

Acclaimed director Ron Howard deserves immense credit for crafting one of the best sporting dramas in recent history.

It depicts the Formula One racing rivalry between British ‘playboy’ driver James Hunt and disciplined Austrian legend Niki Lauda in the mid-Seventies, when death was sadly a regular occurrence.

Two stand-out performances from Thor himself Chris Hemsworth as McLaren star Hunt, and particularly – and we’re talking a possible Oscar-nomination here – Daniel Bruhl as Ferrari driver Niki Lauda, really makes it an intriguing watch.

That coupled with some slick editing (including arguably some of the best sport-based action seen on screen) and perfectly weighted set pieces, turns Rush into one of the best movies of the year from the Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind.

Centred (mainly) around Hunt and Lauda’s battle for the title in the 1976 championship, it particularly depicts Lauda’s battle back from a life-threatening crash that leaves his face burnt and lungs severely damaged.

The two hours run-time simply doesn’t allow enough time to really dissect Hunt’s (who died of a heart-attack aged 45) ‘non-stop party’ life, but gives enough of a glimpse to help weave an interesting screenplay.

But it’s Bruhl’s exhilarating performance as Lauda which is the real winner here – he is so good he could actually be THE Niki Lauda – even though his more seriously straight-laced lifestyle is arguably easier to portray than Hemsworth’s Hunt role.

Rush slows to intermittently border on the formulaic – which prevents it from ever reaching classic status – but with so much to tell that’s an understandable criticism.

Just like with Hunt’s life, Howard lives this movie to the full – and produces one viscerally slick and competently well-oiled machine.

Rating: 4/5