"a wise man will learn more from his enemies than a fool will from his friends"

In 2011, Asif Kapadia's excellent documentary Senna gave us a blunt and very real look into the life, and eventual fate, of a Formula 1 driver, as a memorable film that was composed entirely of archive footage, where nothing was embellished. Laying bare the drivers' struggle to strike a fine balance of risk and reward in a sport which, in the past, has regularly taken the lives of its participants. In stark contrast, Rush takes a completely different approach to tell the story of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda but the results are no less thrilling. Nurses are seduced and journalists are assaulted, as director Ron Howard reunites with his Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan, while neither man is new to sporting biopics, having worked on Cinderella Man and The Damned United, respectively.

The film begins in 1970 with Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Lauda (Daniel Brühl) on the verge of entering Formula 1. An intense rivalry seems inevitable from the outset as the two are polar opposites; Hunt, a blond, long-haired, British playboy, and the Austrian Lauda (nicknamed 'the rat') who is renowned for his distinct lack of charisma. Lauda is a precursor to the modern day athlete, he doesn't smoke or drink, plans meticulously, and knows his car inside out. The pair's driving styles instantly come to a head as Hunt ('the shunt') is willing to take immense risks to win, finally culminating in 1976's perilous fight for the World Championship.

The rivalry begins childishly, as two incompatible men who simply don't get on, but matures as the film goes on, culminating in some fantastic late scenes in which their mutual admiration for each other is clear. Lauda proverbially noting that "a wise man will learn more from his enemies than a fool will from his friends." Evident from the very first race is the film's pinpoint attention to period detail, with aerial shots of classic tracks looking as if they were lifted from documentary footage, while the cars look and sound exactly as they should. Motor sport enthusiasts will be pleased therefore, but the events of the film both on and off the track are exciting enough that all audiences will be able to relate to Hunt and Lauda's somewhat conventional, cinematic rivalry.

Despite Rush's UK ad campaign being all about Chris Hemsworth, this is definitely Daniel Brühl's movie. Lauda is a far more interesting character than Hunt, whose fast-living playboy lifestyle grows a little tiring towards the end. Lauda seems to learn and change and ultimately one can see why Lauda, despite not being as charismatic and popular, went on to have a much more fulfilling life and career. That said, both lead actors give great performances, expertly capturing the nuances of their respective characters.

The film falls flat slightly when it strays too far from the track, however, with some scenes involving the drivers' romantic exploits, it can, at times, feel quite trivial and throw the pace off enough to be noticeable. Thankfully this is only a minor problem and, as a whole, Rush tells its story well. This is a film that celebrates Hunt and Lauder striving for excellence in an era that saw two or three drivers killed each season. It never shies away from this idea, despite glossing over history with a bight colour palette and shimmering petrol fumes. To this end, it achieves the same result as 2011's Senna despite being an utterly different film. Rush is James Hunt to Senna's Niki Lauda, but is no less watchable.