‘Rush’: Racing drama gets checkered flag

As the two sports rivals face each other in “Rush,” they share an observation: They might not have become champions without each other. Sometimes the thing you need to excel is a really good enemy.

The same principle provides the movie’s appeal. The starkly drawn differences between our two race-car rivals are sketched early, and that’s all the character development we need or get.

“Rush,” directed by Ron Howard, isn’t a deep experience, but it succeeds with two interesting roles and a lot of corny vroom-vroom racetrack footage.

The real-life rivals were Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, who competed in the 1970s. Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth), a swaggering Englishman with rockstar looks, spends his time bed-hopping and whiskey-chugging. He’s a poster boy for bad behavior.

Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) takes a methodical approach, which makes him a far less likable colleague than fun-loving Hunt, but he wins a lot of races.

They trade hostile barbs though, after a while, screenwriter Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon”) shrewdly draws out the genuine respect and regard the two men share.

Hunt and Fouda are pretty much the whole show, except for spousal roles played by Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara — whose tasks are pretty thankless, it must be said.

Hemsworth (best known as the hammering man in “Thor”) has charisma to spare as Hunt, and given the once-over-lightly treatment of the character, he needs it.

The German actor Daniel Bruhl is a big star in Europe and perhaps best known here for his role in “Inglourious Basterds.”

He makes Lauda a fussy, frowning technician of the sport, a real square who lives a clean life and goes to bed early.

The hunky face of Chris Hemsworth dominates the movie’s posters, but the film itself sides more with Bruhl’s Lauda.

You have to wonder: Does the famously clean-cut Ron Howard see himself in this modest technician? Howard’s no colorful Tarantino or Scorsese, but a family man who makes inoffensive movies with broad appeal. No wonder Lauda gets some of the best lines.

The movie has Howard’s tendency to over-explain everything, but the cars are handsome and the ’70s look is authentic. In fact, this is the best Ron Howard film since — well, a heckuva long time. But who’s counting.

“Rush” (3 stars)

A 1970s Formula One rivalry between drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) makes for an enjoyable Ron Howard picture, with lots of vroom-vroom racetrack footage and authentic ’70s atmosphere.

Rating: R, for nudity, language, violence.

Showing: Alderwood, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Guld 45th, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Woodinville and Cascade Mall theaters.

More in Life

How did 300 feathers get stuck in that old utility pole?

Artful adornment in Everett is the creation of a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Herb Alpert aims to uplift the world in two recent albums

The Tijuana Brass bandleader releases a Christmas record and an album of covers.

Slick new V6 engine, safety updates boost Nissan Pathfinder

The SUV’s extensive redesign boosts towing capacity and adds driver assistance technology.

Prioritizing permanence and putting down roots

Adapted from a recent online discussion. Dear Carolyn: I’m at a loss… Continue reading

Foo Fighters bounce back with new album ‘Concrete and Gold’

Foo Fighters, “Concrete and Gold”: Can you hate the Foo Fighters? Not… Continue reading

Taking a service dog on the trail

Tenley Lozano hikes with her service dog, Elu. They have section-hiked the… Continue reading

‘Fixer Upper’ couple say they’re ending popular HGTV show

Chip and Joanna Gaines says season beginning in November will be the last one.

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Most Read