TIFF 2013: What's the Rush? Ron Howard Has Another Film in Winner's Circle

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Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl star in Rush.
  • Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl star in Rush.

Approximately 100 minutes into Rush, director Ron Howard's opus to Formula One racing at the height of its 1970s era popularity, I saw something I hadn't witnessed in at least a couple decades: an entire wave of an audience—hundreds of them—slid to the front edge of their seats. I swear to you it was a simultaneous move, almost choreographed, as the penultimate racing scene reached its apex.

And that's about as much praise as I can give a real action-packed film nowadays. That, and the fact that Rush is actually worth the price of the ridiculous price of admission nowadays. In other words, this one's a winner.

Rush, which premiered Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival, just feels so authentic: from its gut-rumbling engines in-synch with Hans Zimmer's thumping score to elaborate recreations of some of motorsports' finest moments, Howard has found yet another genre to check off his list as a master director.

In the 1970s, James Hunt was McEnroe to Niki Lauda's Borg: intense rivals with wildly different lifestyles. Great Britain's Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) had all the luck and all the ladies, while Austria's Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) had the technical prowess and the focus. Their rivalry defined the sport, and having visited the Watkins Glen International race course a few times in the 1970s, I can tell you from personal experience that Hunt and Lauda were every bit as thrilling to watch as any of today's uber-athletes.

Lauda's race to the top of the racing world spun out in a horrific 1976 crash, resulting in unbearable wounds. But his journey back the driver's set is the stuff of legend. And since the rivalry of Hunt and Lauda is not as well known by American movie-goers, my guess is that will only stoke the U.S. box office as audiences thrill to this incredible comeback. This should be a huge international hit.

Above all, Rush is a technical wonder; in particular, editing from Daniel Hanley and Mike Hall, both Oscar winners for Howard's Apollo 13, is again Oscar-caliber stuff.

Simply put, Rush's title is its best description.