It’s the battle of the Formula One alpha males as the real-life rivalry between hard-nosed Austrian Niki Lauda and British playboy James Hunt is given full, glorious vent in Ron Howard‘s exciting car-race movie.
Aussie Chris Hemsworth is very convincing as the flaky, womanising Brit who puts fun in first place, but it is German actor Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds) who takes the flag in the acting stakes.
Serious to a fault, his Lauda is a study in straight talk, calculated risk taking and common sense, qualities that often put him at odds with everybody else. And though it might sound like a collection of German stereotypes, Bruhl gives his character soul with the occasional smile and showing of vulnerability.
As well as brandishing his usual mastery for pacing gutsy dramas, Howard’s command over his division of digital artists results in some great sequences once the action moves to the track.
Yet as terrific as these moments are – the recreation of Lauda’s famous crash is stunning – the film’s real thrill is in watching the relationship develop between two bitter adversaries who can’t help admiring each other.
The oft-used term “bromance” has fallen out of fashion of late, but it certainly applies here, though in a way as warped as the tracks these guys raced each other on.
8 out of 10