The Quarantine Stream: Ron Howard's 'Rush' Is An Underrated Racing Rivalry For The Ages

Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they've been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Rush

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: Set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, Rush portrays the exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals the world has ever witnessed—handsome English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). On and off the track, the two drivers as push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there is no shortcut to victory and no margin for error.

Why It's Essential Viewing: It's not likely that you'll hear Ron Howard's racing drama Rush mentioned in the conversation of the greatest sports dramas of all time. But thanks to the performances of Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl as Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, the movie features one of the most intense, playful, and rousing rivalries that the big screen has ever seen. The movie not only makes great use of Hemsworth's natural movie star looks and charisma, but it utilizes Brühl's impressive skills as a chameleon of a character actor, making for the best of enemies on the track.

Ron Howard has an eclectic career as a filmmaker, ranging from the romantic comedy Splash to the space disaster drama Apollo 13 and from the live-action adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the thrills of Ransom. Then there are the likes of The Paper, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code and Solo: A Star Wars Story. It can be hard to peg Ron Howard's style, and because there aren't many easily discernible traits in his films (aside from the presence of a cameo by Clint Howard), you would never guess that Rush lies in his filmography. That works to the film's advantage as Howard lets his two stars and a stellar script from Frost vs. Nixon writer Peter Morgan do the heavy lifting.

As exciting as the competition is between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, it's the playful rivalry between them blossoming into an unlikely friendship that makes Rush stand out. So many sports dramas have a clear antagonist and protagonist, but Hemsworth and Brühl give them an authentic rivalry that isn't entirely malicious, allowing you to root for both of them. Yes, they're at each other's throats, but as they trade victories, they drive each other to be better, both on and off the track. There's mutual love and respect behind the snark and jabs in the press and around the turns.

Speaking of which, Rush also has some of the most intense and masterfully executed race sequences you've ever seen in a movie of this kind. It's hard to tell what's real and what's created with visual effects, especially in an all-too important race that unfolds in the pouring rain. It's fast-paced and fierce. Those sequences alone would be reason enough to seek out Rush, but the fact that there's an award-worthy drama with stellar performances only sweetens the deal. If you haven't give this movie a shot, now is the time.