Rush (MA) *** and a half

IN my youth, when I was a motor-racing groupie until two of the group wrote themselves off, my hero was (and still is) the greatest driver never to become world champion, Stirling Moss.

Director Ron Howard has made a vigorous film about the Formula 1 rivalry from 1970 to 1976 between the cool, phlegmatic, intense, technically brilliant Austrian Niki Lauda (winningly played by German actor Daniel Bruhl) and ne’er-do-well Brit James Hunt (played by Australian Chris Hemsworth) whose only talent was driving very fast.

Peter Morgan, whose talent for dramatising seminal events in the lives of real people has led cinemagoers through enduring insights, has given Howard great stuff for this full-on actioner. In particular, the screenplay lets Howard junk all those watching-grass-grow moments and concentrate on the breath-takers. The result invites a harking back to Rome’s Colosseum with spectators eager to see lives lost. Life insurance companies take bleak views about insuring motor-racing drivers.

The story’s events are embedded in history’s concrete. Spectators seldom get to see the underlying details. Howard puts his cameras up close and personal, sometimes so much so that the details are hard to discern.

Today you can buy a road car with more power and higher top speed than 1970s Formula 1 models. All you need are the same as what underlay that tumultuous era – lots of money. And a fatalistic attitude. Meanwhile, or instead, get your vicarious kicks from the film.

Showing at Dendy, Palace Electric and Hoyts

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