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'Rush' Sets the a New Trend for Sports Movies


"Rush" has arrived, and for a film about a sport (Formula One racing) that many don't relate to, it makes a clear statement as the best sports movie in quite some time. In fact, Bill Simmons of Grantland already wrote a very interesting and expansive article on how sports movies have become stale, and how "Rush" manages to avoid the trend.

So why does this particular sports film appeal to us? One way to explain it might be to look at our own preferences in life and games. Simply put, people love games of risk. There's a reason that boxing matches still draw millions upon millions of viewers; there's a reason that Bet Fair, an online casino that lets users create accounts to risk their money on games of chance, has an enormous player base. People love to gamble, and enjoy the thrill of risks, and if that means putting real money on the line in an online bingo game, then this can become a thrilling activity.

"Rush" taps into our love of risk in an incredibly human way by showing us the "based-on-a-true-story" rivalry between two professional drivers who, in their own respective ways, live for their craft.

Chris Hemsworth stars as James Hunt, and Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda. These two men were champion Formula One drivers in the 1970's, and, as even the brief movie trailers have done a good job of illustrating, were polar opposites of one another in character. Hunt was every bit the rockstar, a dominant driver with a flashy and charismatic public persona that made him infectiously lovable; Lauda was more the focused, deeply professional maestro, a genius at his craft, but wholly focused on performance and improvement. The two men were rivals on the track, but developed, if not a friendship then a deep respect, and a competitive brotherhood, following a crash that nearly killed Lauda - as Lauda worked his way back to racing.

What's immediately apparent in this wonderful film is how brilliantly cast these two protagonists were. Hemsworth shines with his A-list star power on full display, and Bruhl, while in a manner of speaking the less appealing of the two, is incredibly compelling in his own role.

But where the film excels most is in its ability to make us feel - not just see - the power of sport to drive and determine character. There's a line that actually appears in the trailer in which Hemsworth declares, "I was prepared to die to beat you. There's nobility in that." While this line out of context is on the dramatic side, it's a relatively good snapshot of what drives "Rush." It's the idea that a sport can consume you, and that there's both a recklessness and a beauty to that fact. It's a compelling notion that Ron Howard brings to life in extraordinary fashion with "Rush."

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