The anatomy of a great sports biopic includes a few crucial ingredients. It requires a unique and well-executed story with emotional stakes beyond winning and losing contests. And more often than not, athletes are entertainers; but projecting their stories onto the big screen necessitates careful consideration and treatment.
The 2013 sports biopic “Rush” does exactly that. Centered around the story of two rival Formula One drivers, the movie captured our imaginations, ripped at our heartstrings, and left us completely enthralled. It also set a new standard for cinematic excellence – against which all future sports biopics should be measured. In many ways, “Rush” incorporates the best elements of other iconic sports biopics, and avoids common pitfalls.
At its core, “Rush” centers around the tempestuous rivalry between Formula One drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Lauda, played by Daniel Brühl, demonstrates incredible technical skill, making him one of the greatest open-wheel drivers of his era. Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth, is a charismatic lady’s man and a daring, but reckless driver. Both end up joining the two top teams: Lauda joins Scuderia Ferrari; Hunt joins McClaren Racing. After establishing this history, the movie zeroes in on their harrowing pursuit of the 1976 F1 Championship, which is where the drama begins to build.