I have to give Ron Howard credit. Here's a director that takes subject matter that might not necessarily appeal to a wide audience - and, in this case, I'm including myself - and makes it interesting.
I wouldn't have thought that a picture about a mathematician losing his mind would be that compelling, but "A Beautiful Mind" was just that.
And now, here's "Rush," which follows the intense rivalry between two Formula One racing drivers in the 1970s. To get this off my chest: I could care less about NASCAR, Formula One racing or any other event that involves people driving cars around and around and around. I have no need for speed or, for that matter, "Days of Thunder," "Driven" or any other pictures of the sort. The documentary "Senna" is the rare item of interest.
And yet, "Rush" is a pretty involving film. It's not one of Howard's best films - "A Beautiful Mind," "Parenthood" and "Apollo 13," for example - but it's effective, well acted and nicely shot.
The film follows the hate-hate (and maybe just a little love) relationship between James Hunt, a cocky British driver whose adventures in the bedroom rival his performance on the track, and Niki Lauda, a cocky Austrian driver who everyone views as a pill, but - hey - the guy gets the job done.
Chris Hemsworth, breaking out of comic book purgatory, does a nice job of balancing Hunt's arrogance with the obvious reservoir of feeling he keeps buried beneath the surface, while Daniel Bruhl is effective as the purposefully icy Lauda.
This is not a character study per se. The main character is not so much Hunt or Lauda, but rather their rivalry and how they use their seeming distaste for one another to inspire greatness in themselves.
It's a swiftly paced picture and has an effectively grainy '70s look to it. As I've said before, race car driving isn't my thing, but I can appreciate that the numerous scenes of it in "Rush" are handled well.
This is one of those cases in which you may not have to be a fan of the sport depicted to enjoy the film, which is both engrossing and entertaining.