(directed by Ron Howard, 2013)
**** (out of 5)
> Talk about truth-in-advertising! This Ron Howard racing flick is a rush from beginning to end. Who woulda thunk bland young “Opie” had so many good films in him? (Someday this guy’s going to get a special Oscar for his body of work, and he will deserve it.)
. This high-octane adrenaline kick tells the compelling story of the arch-rivalry between disciplined Swiss champion Nike Lauda and wild Brit playboy James Hunt. Chris Hemsworth (AKA “Thor, God of Thunder”) is perfectly cast as the brash upstart who is challenged, insulted, infuriated, and motivated by his professional rivalry. His rival is played with single-minded intensity, by German actor Daniel Brühl, familiar from THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM and especially INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. We watch, transfixed by the human drama, as each driver is pushed to his limits and then beyond, by their mutual desire to best the other.
. The soundtrack here is gorgeous. Ron Howard soundtracks usually are. The editing is crisp and exciting, the well written script- both restrained and illuminating. Ron always delivers top-notch technical specs. But the human element here almost rivals the adrenaline-pumping action scenes of intense split-second timing at unimaginable speeds. The true nature of the rival’s relationship is revealed in the aftermath of a horrifying crash that leaves one of the men scarred for life, but more determined than ever to get back behind the wheel and prove he is still the best in the world. The transition the adversaries make from pique and outrage to a grudging mutual respect is deftly calibrated and believable.
> At one telling point, one of them “gets” their rivalry better than the other, offering a quote that sums up the entire movie: “A wise man gets more from his enemies than a fool from his friends”. So true, I begin to wonder if I should start looking for an enemy to make me complete…
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