DRAMA; 2hr 2min
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl
Formula for success: Hemsworth (left) and Brühl
In the 1970s, uptight Austrian Niki Lauda (Brühl) and loose-living Brit James Hunt (Hemsworth) come up from motor racing’s Formula Three ranks to the spiralling heights of Formula One with a death-or-glory rivalry as scorching as any flayed rubber in director Ron Howard’s reality-based trackside wow. The effortlessly seductive Hunt taunts the odds, yet throws up before each race, while Lauda is a taskmaster and perfectionist who truly lives to work. They’re an unbeatable combination — except that only one of them can end up spraying the world champion’s champagne.
Howard climbs inside the passion and the heat both on and off the course. The racing is raucous, urgent and fierce, counterbalanced in the propulsive mosaic of Peter Morgan’s screenplay by acidic backstage run-ins between the two men and side trips to their love-lives (hint: Hunt’s is busier). The sound and fury peaks in 1976, with reigning champ Lauda battling post-crash burns to return, horribly scarred, to the track and battle Hunt for the title. Their testy, combative, strangely wedded relationship — acutely re-created by Hemsworth and Brühl — is the engine that drives this remarkable race.