Men willing to kill themselves driving around in circles. That's how Formula 1 drivers are referred to in Ron Howard's Rush.
The challenge facing Howard is how to fashion an emotionally engaging story about characters so obsessed with Grand Prix racing that they have little interest in anything else.
The film follows the often mind-boggling events of the 1976 season in which intense rivals Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) competed. On a formal level, Rush is a tour de force.
The tremendous cinematography (by Anthony Dod Mantle) and rousing music (by Hans Zimmer) ensure that the race scenes are invigorating. Brühl excels as the resolutely unromantic Lauda.
Hemsworth is well cast as "Hunt the shunt," whose competitiveness on the track is matched by his hedonism off it. Peter Morgan's screenplay jumps between the drivers' stories and tries to depict them as mythic archetypes.
Even so, for all its sturm und drang and craft, this is still a movie about men driving around in circles.
Watch Hunt confront Lauda in the clip from Rush below: