Rush is a 2013 film directed by Ron Howard and starring Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth. The film dramatizes the real-life Formula One rivalry of British playboy James Hunt and Austrian precision driver Niki Lauda, culminating in their 1976 duel for the world championship, which is widely considered the most dramatic year in motorsports history. The score was composed by Hans Zimmer and the script was penned by Peter Morgan. The real Niki Lauda acted as a consultant for both Peter Morgan and Daniel Brühl. The movie premiered in the UK on September 2nd and opened in the US on September 27th,
This movie provides examples of:
Age Lift: Lord Hesketh is portrayed as a middle-aged man in the film, but he would actually be 20 years old at the beginning of the film, three years younger than his sponsored driver James Hunt.
Anyone Can Die: With an average of 2 deaths a year, most drivers learned to live with the thought that the current race could be their last. Just to drive the point home we see François Cevert get decapitated at the Watkins Glen race, and another driver get his leg hideously fractured at the Nürburgring the day before Lauda himself is almost killed
Hunt and Lauda were at worst friendly enemies and in their Formula 3 days actually shared an apartment together. Likewise, Lauda's comments at the end of the film that he last saw Hunt "at the side of the road with a flat tire on his bicycle" neglect to mention that at the time Hunt was trying his hand at professional cycling, which he did fairly well at for a few years. And something excised completely was that Niki was quite the womanizer himself, though nowhere near James's reputation.
A more minor example: a driver was beheaded by a crash barrier at Watkins Glen, as depicted in the film, but that was Helmuth Koinigg in 1974. Cevert, similarly, did die at Watkins Glen in 1973, but at a different corner than that depicted in the film, and he wasn't beheaded (though he was nearly bisected).
James never punched any reporters but he did punch a fellow driver in F3 after a crash, and a track marshal in 1977 (after the events of the film) after his team-mate had crashed him off.
Awesome by Analysis: While riding in Marlene's car, Niki reels off an impressive laundry list of mechanical problems that he claims he sensed using his ass. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Niki Lauda performed a Sherlock Scan with his butt.
Badass Driver: The film basically charts the two biggest drivers of the 1976, characterizing them as titans of their field.
Balls of Steel: James Hunt was once asked what he had that made him so quick. His answer: "Big balls".
Bittersweet Ending: The movie ends with Niki watching James walk away, while a voiceover of him discusses James's later life and death at the early age of 45. Interspliced is footage and pictures of the real James and Niki, the final ones being one of James's final pictures and one of present day Niki.
Lauda claims that he gets no thrill out of racing and would quit the sport the moment a more profitable opportunity presented itself. However, we've already seen him spurn his father's offer to include him in the family's profitable business to pursue racing instead. Lauda just doesn't want to admit that he has an emotional attachment to something. Lauda did eventually leave racing to start his own airline (and allegedly only came back to racing to finance said airline), so perhaps he really wanted to be a Self-Made Man rather than rely upon family ties.
At the Italian Grand Prix, James is visibly shocked by Niki's burn scars, but tries to say it's not that bad when Niki notices this. Niki replies that seeing James' reaction is proof that he'll spend the rest of his life with a face that frightens people.
Blue Oni Red Oni: The fundamental difference between Lauda and Hunt. Lauda is the Blue Oni: cold, calculating, methodical, only interested in winning and results, with no patience for pleasure or sentiment. Hunt is the Red Oni: passionate, charismatic, flighty, irresponsible and irreverent, relying more on natural talent than hard work. Their racing overalls were even properly colored in the first part of the movie, until Niki moved to Ferrari.
Blunt Yes: When James tells Niki that he feels responsible for the accident that left the latter's face disfigured, Niki doesn't hesitate to agree.
Book Ends: The movie starts and ends with Niki Flipping the Bird to James. At the beginning, Niki is doing it in anger after James calls him a chicken in Formula Three. By the end, it could almost be called affectionate, because by then they're both F1 champions and equals. James had joked that the accident made Niki look better and Niki's grinning as he flips him off. Niki Lauda's narration also open the film (with a discussion of how dangerous F1 in The Seventies was) and close it (with a brief biography of Hunt's post-F1 life and death).
Brilliant, but Lazy: James Hunt, who, after winning the 1976 Championship, decided that was good enough for him, retiring from the sport only three years later.
Brutal Honesty: Niki will speak his mind, no matter what and no matter who is present. This was apparently Truth in Television too: a favorite story of Daniel Brühl's is when he and Niki decided to meet, Niki told him to just bring hand luggage so 'if they didn't like each other he could piss off right away'. (In case you're wondering, Daniel spent so long in Vienna he ended up buying more clothes.)
The Cameo: The real Alastair Caldwell, former Team Manager of McLaren, shows up during the final Press Conference at the Japanese GP. He's the moustached man sitting behind the drivers.
Car Porn: As befitting a racing movie, viewers are treated to numerous closeups of the cars, as well as shots of engine internals and other mechanical bits. Lampshaded by Lord Hesketh.
Lord Hesketh: Nursie, men love women. But even more than that, men love cars.
Cassandra Truth: Niki is fully aware of how dangerous Nürburgring is and tries to convince the rest of the drivers to cancel the race due to bad conditions, but is ignored mostly through his own personality and James's swaying of the room.
Casting Gag: This is the second time Natalie Dormer (Nurse Gemma) has had a small but memorable role in a film in which she made out with an Avengers cast member.note In The First Avenger, she plays the young private whom Agent Carter catches kissing Captain America.
Character Development: Niki Lauda had the most notable one, going from being an emotionless driver who thought happiness was a weakness to re-evaluating his life after his nearly fatal crash at Nürburgring, becoming a little mellower and friendlier, especially towards James.
Character Tics: James flicks the lid of his zippo lighter and jiggles his foot whenever he's nervy. He's seen doing so on the plane when his wife leaves him; next doing this under the table while he's presenting a cool face in the press conference before Fuji.
Composite Character: The film combines the deaths of Francois Cevert at Watkins Glen in 1973, and Helmuth Koinigg at the same track a year later. It's Cevert who dies, but the location and manner of his death are those of Koinigg.
For James, it sure seemed like it when Hesketh folded, leaving him without a drive, and his marriage was beginning to crumble. Then Emerson Fittipaldi leaves McLaren to start his own team and James talks his way into getting the empty seat over Jacky Ickx.
For Niki, of course, it was his Nurburgring crash.
Niki Lauda, who, after having the Last Rites administered and with extensive burns to his face and scalp, not to mention severe lung damage, did everything in his power to get back in his car in time for the Italian GP, finishing it in 4th place, all of that in only 42 days.
James as well, during the 1976 season - plagued by persistent mechanical problems that caused him to not finish several races, he kept on plugging away until he was near the top of the standings by the final race of the season.
Down to the Last Play: James Hunt needs to finish third or better in the last F1 race of the season to be world champion. He finishes third on the last lap of the race to beat Lauda by a single point and becomes world champion.
Drives Like Crazy: Hunt The Shunt. He's a Badass Driver but he also seems to be somewhat lacking in the self-preservation department. By his own admission he was willing to die to beat Lauda.
Elopement: Niki and Marlene, in direct contrast to James and Suzy's very public, showy wedding.
Embarrassing Nickname: James Hunt used to be called Hunt the Shunt; and Niki Lauda was called The Rat. Niki doesn't really mind being called a rat; sure they're ugly, but they're also intelligent. In real life, Lauda actually had a rat emblem on his helmet because of this. (And later a cartoon rat was the mascot for his airline.)
Emotionally Tongue Tied: Niki is fully aware of his own love-related skills (or lack thereof), which he readily admits to Marlene.
Marlene: Mein Gott, ein poet
Establishing Character Moment: In James Hunt's first appearance, he's been fighting with a jealous husband, whereas in Niki Lauda's, he seems to have been meticulously inspecting the track since five o'clock in the morning.
Fanservice: Quite a few male and female characters are naked or half-naked. It's hard to leave the theater disappointed.
Fatal Method Acting: In-Universe, we see Francois Cevert's headless body sitting in his car, where it apparently went through the guardrail. Niki Lauda had a near miss himself, when his car caught fire after crashing.
Friendly Enemy: Hunt and Lauda hate each other, but their competition spurs them to be the best at their field and they eventually come to respect each other as rivals. This is exaggerated from the truth for dramatic effect, as Hunt and Lauda in real life were always on friendly terms and even lived as roommates at one point.
Gilligan Cut: Marlene, after Niki gives a Long List of things wrong with her car, indignantly says that the car was just serviced and is in "perfect condition". Cut to the inevitable smoking car by the side of the road.
Good Times Montage: Wine, women, quiz shows, making cheesy adverts, all the glitz and glamour after James Hunt wins the 1976 championship.
Grey and Grey Morality: The movie goes out of its way to not pit either James or Niki as the 'hero' or the 'villain' in the story. Neither are bad people per se, just two very different people with two different and equally valid lifestyles and driving styles.
Handicapped Badass: Niki Lauda, after the infamous Nürburgring accident, returned to race in the Italian GP with his wounds still bleeding.
Happily Married: Subverted with James Hunt and Suzy Miller. Played straight with Niki Lauda and Marlene. Just don't read Niki's Wikipedia page regarding that.
We only see glimpses of the famous six-wheeled Tyrell car that was unveiled during the 1976 season. It ultimately came in third behind the two protagonists.
There are a number of big names mentioned during the film, some of them motorsports legends in their own right such as Fittipaldi, Scheckter, and Andretti. Here they're all supporting cast at best and most of them don't even get speaking parts. Fittipaldi does at least get to make an impact on the plot, his departure from McLaren leaves a seat open for Hunt after Hesketh folded
Heroic Second Wind: In the Italian Grand Prix, Niki starts poorly with his vision impaired as the commentators wonder if he's a danger on the track. Then there's a crash in front of him, he somehow evades the wreckage, his vision suddenly clears and he's back to his old skill.
How We Got Here: The movie starts with the beginning of the Nürburgring race before going back six years.
Hypocrite: The person who accuses Niki of wanting to cancel the Nürburgring race out of fear never owns up to the statement.
If My Calculations Are Correct: Niki talks about the "percentage of risk" quite a bit. According to him, there's a 20% chance of death in a race under normal conditions, which is acceptable. At Nurburgring it's over that, which is unacceptable. There's also no point in increasing the percentage by speeding on regular roads if he's not getting paid (or unless Marlene asks him to).
Impairment Shot: The camera blurs when Niki is in the hospital, looking at Marlene while a priest gives him last rites, just before he blacks out. It's repeated at the Italian Grand Prix, but as a prelude to his Heroic Second Wind.
In Medias Res: The film starts on the grid of the infamous Nürburgring race with Lauda narrating that he'll be remembered for what's about to happen, then the film cuts to 6 years earlier and Hunt and Lauda's first encounter on a track.
Ironic Echo: At the Nurburgring, when Niki calls for the race to be cancelled on account of the treacherous rain, James sways everyone to race anyway by suggesting Niki's only doing it to preserve his chances of retaining the title. Cue Fuji, and worse rain, and James is the one calling for the race to be cancelled, even though doing so automatically gives the title to Niki. Not that it mattered, both races went on. (In real life James actually did try to withdraw. Alastair literally threatened to break James's neck if he got out of the car.)
Jammed Seatbelts: Niki is seen struggling with the release on his five-point harness as his car is in flames around him. Undoubtedly his difficulty with it is due the to fact that his face is on fire and he's trying not to breathe superheated toxic fumes. The drivers who rescue him manage to pop the release once they are able to get through the flames.
Jerk Ass: The reporter who asks Niki if his marriage could really last after his facial disfigurement. James and Niki also had their moments, though they prefer the term 'asshole'.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: James Hunt came across as an asshole, but beneath that façade there was a genuinely decent guy. Shown especially after Niki Lauda's post-accident press conference.
Goes for Niki Lauda as well, though he mostly shows his heart of gold side in the closing narration.
Jumped at the Call: James, quite literally, when he gets a call from his brother telling him that there's something going on at McLaren.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: Hunt beating the shit out of the reporter who asks Niki if his marriage will survive after his facial disfigurement.
Ladykiller in Love: Averted with James, who marries Suzy after knowing her for a matter of weeks but seemingly couldn't care less when she leaves him. In real life he even befriended the man she left him for.
Man on Fire: Niki's accident is recreated here in excruciating detail.
Meet Cute: Niki and Marlene's first meeting (Starts with Niki picking up all the faults in her car with his butt, and ends in an epic joyride in an Alfa)
Mile-High Club: For James (with a Sexy Stewardess), though it's less for fanservice and more for showing his growing restlessness and frustration.
Nice Guy: Clay Regazzoni, who went as far as recommending Niki Lauda, who was his team mate in BRM, to Enzo Ferrari himself, getting him a drive in the Scuderia. Not to mention cautioning Lauda against humiliating himself by taking James Hunt's sloppy seconds.
Nice Hat: At the final scene we see Niki's iconic red hat that he started wearing to hide his scars (before he started renting out the front for advertising space, anyway).
No Holds Barred Beat Down: James administers one to a reporter who is ill-advised enough to rudely ask Niki if Marlene could possibly go on loving him after his face was disfigured in the Nürburgring crash.
Hunt (to the badly-beaten reporter): "Now go home to your wife and ask her how you look. Prick."
Nobody Calls Me Chicken: The situation arises when one racer accuses Niki of wanting to cancel the Nürburgring race out of fear. Niki's pride kicks in and he agrees to compete.
Not so Above It All: Niki insists that every risk he takes is carefully calculated and he would never ever do anything where the payoff doesn't outweigh the risk, and yet he allows himself to be goaded into taking risks that he himself considered to be unacceptable twice during the course of the movie. The first is when he's driving with Marlene through the Italian countryside, and the second is at the Nürburgring when he wants to have the race abandoned due to the conditions (see Nobody Calls Me Chicken, above).
Off with His Head!: Happens to Francois Cevert at the 1973 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. note Cevert wasn't actually decapitated, but Helmuth Koinigg was, at the same track one year later.
Precision F-Strike: Delivered by Lauda to an obnoxious reporter who questions his wife's love for him after his disfigurement.
Lauda: "Fuck you. Press conference over!" (leaves the room)
Rated M for Manly: Racing 800kg 450hp cars at 200+kph during insanely dangerous driving conditions - oh, hell yes!
Doubly so during the last race, when James Hunt's gearlever snaps off - and he bloodies his hands shifting.
Replacement Scrappy (In-Universe): Niki made it clear from his tone that he was not pleased that Ferrari hired Carlos Reutemann to fill his seat-before he even got to the hospital!
Riches to Rags: There's nothing quite like setting up an F1 team without any help from sponsors for wiping out a family fortune, as Lord Hesketh finds out to his dismay.
The Rival: James Hunt and Niki Lauda saw each other as that.
Rules Lawyer: Niki plays this card with his one of his early Formula 1 races with James by accusing the British racer's car of being of illegal width. The judges examine it and agree, which disqualifies James' win and handicaps him for a number of races with mechanical failures as his crew struggles to modify the car to fit it within regulations even though the ruling was later overturned.
Scenery Porn: There's a shot of the beautiful Italian landscape when Marlene's car breaks down.
Second Place Is for Winners: Both of the racers experience this trope. Niki for placing an impressive 4th in a race so soon after being so seriously injured and disfigured after a major car crash and James for placing 3rd in Tokyo, which is good enough to win the racing championship. Furthermore, Niki may have lost the title to James, but he's alive to try again, and to him that was more important.
Show Some Leg: Marlene invokes this in order to get a ride after her car breaks down - "This is Italy, after all." Subverted because the two guys who stop turn out to be huge Team Ferrari/Niki Lauda fanboys and ignore her completely!
Slo-Mo Big Air: A subversion in that just before Niki's disastrous crash, his car gets a split second of air time; instead of being thrilling, it is instead an ominous sign considering the very point of the wings and fins on Formula 1 cars is to prevent that kind of lofting, meaning the car is obviously not performing correctly.
Start My Own: How Hesketh gets Hunt into Formula 1. He figured that rather than build up to it via Formula 2 he'd frogleap that step and set up as a Formula 1 team because the economics of the two sports aren't so different. It turns out he's dead wrong about the economics of F1 compared to F2 and ends up going bankrupt
The Stoic: Niki Lauda rarely smiles. In fact, he only seems to show emotions when he is around James Hunt and, perhaps, his wife Marlene.
Technician Versus Performer: Niki (Technician) vs. James (Performer). Interestingly, the film does not favor the one over the other - both men are presented as very talented, each in his own way.
That One Level (In-Universe): The Nurburgring (to be specific the Nordschleife circuit where the race was held). Between it being a Marathon Level (the lap record is 7 minutes and technically Niki has gone under that in a test session, hence him saying he has the record) and long stretches where it's difficult to impossible to have marshals nearby or medical cars to get there easily, it was little wonder Niki tried to boycott the race. After Niki's accident the Nurburgring didn't hold a Formula One race for eight years, and when it did it was on the shorter and safer Strecke circuit.
Trailers Always Spoil: Every trailer includes Niki Lauda's infamous accident, though the details regarding it have been spoilered out here for your convenience.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Actually, the movie's pretty damn accurate on some things, but the fact that some things have been changed for the sake of narrative (such as the example on Friendly Enemy) and there are a couple of things made from whole cloth (such as the incident with James and the reporter) that keep it from being a Dramatization instead. It certainly helped that the real Lauda vetted the process and on the whole approves of the movie, and wishes Hunt had lived to see it. (He did joke that he had gotten girls too, though.)
Victorious Loser: Niki may have lost the title to James, but he's alive to try again, and after the Nurburgring, that was more important to him. Besides, he'd go on to win two more titles, so if anything it's a setback, not a loss.
Vitriolic Best Buds: James's and Niki's relationship has evolved into something like this by the end of the film.
Worthy Opponent: Niki pretty much declares James as his in his final voiceover.
Wham Episode: Formula One fans knew it was coming but for the average moviegoer there are two: Niki's accident and Niki withdrawing from the Japanese Grand Prix. Then again, considering these were Wham Episodes when it happened in Real Life, it evens out for the F1 fans, at least those alive during the 1976 season.
Wham Line: Likewise, F1 fans knew it was coming, but non-fans wouldn't, at the Italian Grand Prix:
Alastair: Jesus, it's Niki! James: What about him? Alastair: He's here! James: What? Alastair: He's racing.