Director: Ron Howard
With a great attention to detail and a pair of exceptional leading performances, Howard’s period piece set against a historic, high speed Formula One racing rivalry in the 1970s surprises and thrills, both dramatically and visually.
Hard living and reckless Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) works his way up through minor circuit races to the big show largely on his own. The more cautious and constantly politicking Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl, also in opening night film The Fifth Estate) has pretty much bought his way into Formula One, but his skills more than back up the chequebooks behind him. Theirs was a rivalry that would bring out the best and worst in both, making both learn about their personal responsibilities while constantly endangering those around them at the worst of times.
The final act might go on a bit long and the subplots involving the women in Hunt and Lauda’s lives doesn’t add very much, but Howard nails the period aspects of the film splendidly and the give and take between Hemsworth and Bruhl fascinates. Hemsworth has never been better, and this should lead to him getting more high profile and artful assignments. It also solidifies this as a breakout year for Bruhl. It should also probably go without saying that the race sequences are top notch. (Andrew Parker)