Formula One motor racing in the Seventies, according to Peter Morgan's script for this pulse-quickening sports drama, was a high-risk pursuit that exclusively attracted "rebels, lunatics and dreamers".
But with that said, there were two approaches that a driver could take, best exemplified by the long-haired, shirt-unbuttoned, champagne-swilling English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and the buttoned-down, pragmatic and monomaniacally focused Austrian Niki Lauder (Daniel Brühl).
Rush charts the rivalry that consumed and drove them, from their initial meeting on the Formula Three circuit all the way to the highly dramatic climactic race of the 1976 world championship.
The script is full of explanatory dialogue and broad- strokes ("I have a hot-head, an inability to tolerate authority... I was prepared to die in order to beat you," Hunt spells out) and Hans Zimmer's thunderous music underscores every point.
But the performances – especially Brühl's – are subtle, and the film is so fabulously kinetic and throbs with such inherent drama that even the clunkiest exposition doesn't dull the thrill of its forward momentum. "The closer to death you are, the more alive you feel," says Hunt. And by putting you in the driver's seat alongside him, Rush makes you feel very alive indeed.