Double Mini Reviews: RUSH and The Fifth Estate

These two films are both in the BOATS category, that is based on a true story. Whether it’s close or loosely based on the real deal is up for debates of course, especially in regards to The Fifth Estate as Julian Assange himself doesn’t support the film, though given his secretive nature, it doesn’t mean what takes place in the film isn’t true, either. In any case, both of these are not documentaries, so I don’t judge either film based on accuracy, but on the merit of the work as an art form.

RUSH

RUSH_PosterI have to admit that I hadn’t heard of either Hunt or Lauda before this film, who were fierce rivals during the 1970s Formula 1 racing period. I grew up with a brother who was into F-1 racing in the late 80s – mid 90s, so I was more familiar with the rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. By focusing on the rivalry between the two racers, RUSH is more of intriguing character-driven thriller instead of an all-action racing movie.

The beginning of the film shows the stark difference of not just their lifestyle, Hunt is the free-spirited playboy compared to the focused but reclusive Lauda, but also how each approaches the sport. The British Hunt is all about instinct whilst the Austrian Lauda is all about precision, he’d methodically and meticulously scrutinizes the technicality of his car before he climbs into it. Though the film has some thrilling racing sequences that really lives up to the title in giving you a boost of adrenaline rush, what really gets me is their relationship off the track. As someone who don’t normally follow this sport, it’s the characters and their stories that made me enjoy this film and what makes it memorable in the end.

Just as you’d expect in an extreme sport like this, a major incident occurs halfway through that’d make you gasp. I’m not going to spoil it for you but let’s just say there are some very uncomfortable scenes to watch here that seemed to go on forever. The attention to detail achieved by the cinematography and sound editing truly create an authentic feel of the racing experience. The car, the helmet, even the views of the drivers as they’re racing definitely get your heart pounding. The 1976 Japanese Grand Prix in torrential rain is especially gripping and the way the race is filmed is phenomenal. Yet the slower moments are also effective in showing the persona of the people risking their lives behind the wheel with every race.

RUSH_stills
The two leads are excellent. Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Lauda share an effortless chemistry as both friends and foes. Hemsworth has a natural cocky-ness about him as he displayed in THOR, but he shows some emotional depth and vulnerability when the moment calls for it. Brühl is especially impressive in that he’s not only made up to resemble the real Lauda in his younger years, but he’s got the intensity and mannerism down perfectly. I was much more taken by his character overall and it’s largely a testament of Brühl’s compelling performance. He’s definitely an actor to watch for and I hope he gets a leading role in the future. There are not much to speak of in terms of supporting cast as the films are ultimately about Hunt and Lauda. Olivia Wilde and Romanian actress Alexandra Maria Lara are both pretty good as Hunt and Lauda’s love interest.

Overall it was a satisfying thriller that also packs an emotional punch. It’s fascinating to see the incredible drive of these racers, and in the case of Lauda, his will to not just excel but to survive is inspiring. Kudos to Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan for crafting a balanced look of visual prowess and intriguing drama. Combined with Hans Zimmer‘s dynamic score, RUSH is one of the most invigorating thrillers of the year.

fourreels
4 out of 5 reels

THE FIFTH ESTATE

A fifth estate is a group within a society that is seen as operating outside of the society’s normal groupings in terms of their roles and viewpoints, especially a group that is considered beyond the restrictions or rules of those other groupings. – per Wikipedia

TheFifthEstatePosterThis film traces the origin of perhaps 21st century’s most controversial organization Wikileaks, and its founder, Julian Assange. It’s interesting that the promo of this film asks us whether Assange is a hero or a traitor? Now of course it depends who you ask as you’d likely find a polarizing view on either side.

One thing I’ll say about the Australian-born Assange is that he’s quite a fascinating man. The master computer hacker is a tech whiz who’s well-traveled, having lived in Europe when he started working on WikiLeaks, as well as Nairobi, Tanzania, Iceland, etc. The film opens with him meeting a journalist Daniel Domscheit-Berg (whose book is one of the source for this story) in Germany, who was drawn to the seemingly noble enterprise of Wikileaks. Their first mission was to take down this huge bank that’s been doing illegal activities. He also admired the charismatic but elusive Assange as a mentor initially, though later it’s easy to see how their relationship became strained.

As I hadn’t been following the whole WikiLeaks scandal too closely, some of the events depicted here went over my head. At times it was hard to follow some of the details, more on that in a bit. But the one thing that interested me was the character study of Assange himself, which I thought was portrayed quite well by Benedict Cumberbatch. There had been reports that Assange himself emailed the British actor to ask him to not to participate in the film. How much that incident affected Cumberbatch’s performance I’ll never know, though he certainly doesn’t paint Assange as a likable man here. He’s brilliant to be sure, but his arrogance and ruthless nature who doesn’t care who gets hurt by his actions. No matter how good his intentions were, what he did with WikiLeaks has gone too far, but obviously the defiant Assange didn’t see it that way.

TheFifthEstate_Stills
Both Cumberbatch and Daniel Brühl as Berg share about a similar amount of screen time and both are wonderful to watch. Once again Brühl proves to be a capable and versatile actor. I didn’t realize just how great the supporting cast are, but it’s nice to see the likes of David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi and Dan Stevens as the Guardian newspaper staff, and playing US Government offials are the immensely talented character actors Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney. Seems like such a small role is a waste of their talents but as always they’re excellent to watch.

The direction by Bill Condon and Josh Singer‘s script leave much to be desired however. To say the pace is uneven is putting it mildly, but the narrative structure is the main issue here. It’s tough enough that there are complex issues being presented, but the haphazard editing makes it even more confusing. It makes me appreciate David Fincher’s brilliant direction of The Social Network even more, and it shows that sharp execution is key when dealing with a story such as this. I do commend the fact the film raises a lot of intriguing ethical and legal issues without necessarily portraying Assange as an evil figure or otherwise, hence the traitor vs hero argument. But it could’ve been a heck of a lot more riveting instead of just mildly interesting and even somewhat tedious. I suppose it’s still worth a rent if you’re a fan of the cast, and I really can’t pick fault with their performances. I feel that if it hadn’t been for the cast though, I’d probably better off watching Alex Gibney’s documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks instead.

3 out of 5 reels


Thoughts on either one of these films? I’d love to hear it!

55 thoughts on “Double Mini Reviews: RUSH and The Fifth Estate

    • Yeah, I’m glad I saw RUSH on the big screen, it’s really quite an adrenaline rush (pun intended!) and something I could easily watch again. THE FIFTH ESTATE is worth a rent in that it’s timely and a thought provoking subject.

  1. Great reviews Ruth. Rush is one of my favourite films of the year, I loved it. I think Bruhl could be an outside chance for an Oscar nom. As for the Fifth Estate, I think it’s too soon for a film like this, the whole issue is still on going really. I think it’ll make a better film whenever the whole thing concludes itself.

    • Hi Chris! I totally see why you love Rush! I actually read your review a day before I saw it, so thanks for the warning about that ‘uncomfortable’ scene. I didn’t want to mention about it for fear ppl think it’s a spoiler. A good point there about Fifth Estate, who knows when this thing would reach a conclusion though. I still the cast did their best w/ the material given.

    • Hello Brenda, nice to see you stop by! Oh if your hubby is familiar w/ the real story then it must’ve been a more compelling experience. I knew it was heartbreaking for me to watch Senna, but man, what Lauda went through was just as scary!

      • There are just some films that don’t look…appealing. I’m sure the story is a good one, but the trailer did nothing for me. If Bruhl gets critics mentions for it and winds up nominated somewhere for this instead of ‘Rush’, I may see it (since I like to see everything that gets nominated places) but if it fades away I’ll probably forget about it ;)

        • Ah I see, makes sense. Yeah there are some films that doesn’t appeal to me at all, like Enders Game for example. But I’m a big fan of Cumberbatch so he was the main draw, but I’m starting to REALLY like Bruhl now.

  2. Nice reviews Ruth! It’s funny, neither of these films could interest me enough to see them at the theaters. I know I’ll eventually catch up to them but I guess it’ll be on DVD! Loved your thoughts though!

    • Hi Keith! Not interested in RUSH? Hmmm, I though every guy loves Formula 1, he..he.. Sorry, it’s such a stereotype isn’t it, I mean I’m a girl and I enjoy cars and car chases as much as the next guy!

  3. I’ll probably rent Rush since it’s getting lots of positive reviews. I haven’t seen a Ron Howard film in a long time, he used to be my favorite director but his last few films were pretty weak.

    As for The Fifth Estate, it doesn’t interest me at all since I don’t agree with some of the things Julian Assange did in real life. Exposing illegal bank practices, great. But endangering people’s lives, not great.

    • I can say that RUSH is perhaps a return to form for Howard, it was thrilling but also has some emotional depth.

      As for Assange, well there are lots of films whose subject matters I disagree but I’m still curious to see the story. Otherwise why watch films about say, Hitler who obviously is an evil person. I’m not comparing Assange to Hitler of course, in case someone misunderstand me, just presenting an example.

      • Funny you mentioned Hitler, I’ve never actually seen any movie about his life, even the much loved Downfall. But I love watching movies about WW2 or in the case of Inglorious Basterds, the assassination of Hitler. LOL.

  4. Great work Ruth. I haven’t seen either if these yet but I really fancy Rush. Normally I’m not that keen on Ron Howard but in drawn to that one. The Fifth Estate is a subject matter that interests me but I’ve read less than stellar opinions on it. I’ll still give it a look but Rush comes first.

    Can’t go wrong with Daniel Bruhl either. By the way, you should check Goodbye Lenin is you haven’t seen it yet. It’s a wonderful little film with Bruhl in the lead.

    • I’m generally indifferent about Howard, though there are a couple of films of his I enjoyed. RUSH is perhaps one of his best to date, I think you’d enjoy that one Mark. I understand the bad reviews about The Fifth Estate, but I still enjoyed the performances, down to the small supporting roles like Linney and Tucci.

      Thanks for recommending me about Goodbye Lenin, that one looks really good!

  5. I’m really interested in The Fifth Estate… And I hadn’t even thought of seeing Rush, but now I’m kinda thinking I have to give it a watch.

  6. Nice Rush review. It sounds like you probably enjoyed it a bit more than I did, though I still thought it was a solid enough flick that was really sold by the great performances on hand. If nothing else, it kept me entertained, which is more than I can say about the sport the movie was based around, lol. :P

    Still haven’t seen The Fifth Estate just yet, and honestly not sure if I’m gonna get around to it. But to update from before, 12 Years A Slave finally released this weekend, so I’ll certainly be checking that one out. B)

    • Hi Chris! Not a fan of Formula 1 eh? It’s interesting that the more I think about Rush the more I liked it, but yeah the performances were great, esp. Bruhl as Lauda.

      The Fifth Estate is perhaps better as a rental anyway but hey, glad you’re gonna see 12 Years a Slave. I’m contemplating seeing it again as dir. Steve McQueen is supposedly doing Q&A after in my city!

  7. Fifth Estate, better than I expected it to be. Or, from what I heard from millions. While Rush was a very good movie and totally lived up to the positive hype. Good reviews Ruth.

    • Hi Dan, yeah it was definitely not as terrible as critics made it out to be, but still it could’ve been a lot better. I’m glad RUSH lived up to the hype, I had read so many ppl’s reviews praising it before I finally saw it. Thrilling but also has some emotional pay offs.

  8. I loved Rush. I thought it was a beautifully told story full of drama and suspense. I’d love to see Daniel Brühl get an Oscar nomination, but I feel the movie was just too low profile to get noticed. Some great work though. He was incredible.

    • Hi Mark, glad we agree! Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about Brühl, that he’d get overlooked from Rush though he really stands out there. Interesting that it wasn’t a higher profile film as Ron Howard’s films have won Oscars before.

  9. Rush perfectly captures the atmosphere of the 1970s with its strange haircuts and leather skirts, yet showing the danger of Formula 1 and its hazardous nature. Featuring impressive performance by Hemsworth and especially Brühl.

    Hemsworth continues to impress. I’m a big fan of his work.
    Great review! Glad you liked the film.

    PS – Looking forward to your reveiw of August: Osage County.

    • Hi Jack! Amen on what you said about Rush, I thought the fashion wasn’t as bad as I thought, ahah. Yeah, Formula 1 is like a deathly sport and this film certainly a reminder of that.

      Haven’t even started writing the review of August: Osage County, but I’ll let you know when it’s done :D

  10. I had no idea Capaldi is in The Fifth Estate! With him and Carice van Houten there, I guess I’ll catch it on DVD. I can’t wait to see Rush, it seems like Frost/Nixon a lot with Morgan’s script revolving around the competition between two men.

    • Hi Sati, Capaldi doesn’t have a big role though, neither is Dan Stevens though he’s so darn cute here! Not familiar w/ Carice van Houten I’m afraid, I think her role is small as well, I was more impressed w/ Alicia Vikander as Bruhl’s love interest.

      Oh man I still need to see Frost/Nixon, yes Peter Morgan’s script captures the rivalry very well!

  11. It’s Daniel Bruhl week at FlixChatter, haha! In all seriousness, great reviews, Ruth, Glad you liekd Rush as much as I did. Bruhl was phenomenal but really enjoyed Hemsworth, Wilde and Lara as well. One of my favorites of the year so far.

    • Ahah yes it is! I agree that all the actors were good in RUSH, but I think Bruhl really stood out. I like Lara as well who played his wife, so I guess I’m more on team Lauda :D

  12. If the movie really did stay true to actual events of Hunt and Lauda’s rivalry, then I’d say its one of the greatest rivalries in sport history. When Lauda said Hunt was responsible of getting him back racing again, it just summaries how each other drives the other on.

    I think I’l wait for The Fifth Estate on DVD but Cumberbatch’s hair looks pretty weird in that!

    • Hi Asrap! I read that Hunt and Lauda actually knew each other well before they started racing so I think the film might’ve overly dramatized their rivalry a bit. I think the part about Hunt motivating him to race again is probably true though, that’s incredible as Lauda must’ve been still in a lot of pain.

      Ahah well, weird hair aside I think he did a good job. I think Assange’s got terrible hair anyway.

  13. RUSH has been getting a lot of great review…I think I have to see it when the DVD is out.
    AAAAhhhhh…Benny!! the Fifth Estate on the other hand is said to be not so good (but I’ll watch it anyway)

    Thank you for this fine review Ruth :)

  14. Great reviews, Ruth. I really liked Rush and was glad for the way that Howard filmed it. So well done and the cast…spot on. It’s so neat to read a review from someone who knew nothing almost about the characters and their story prior to watching it. Glad you liked it too.

    The Fifth Estate…well, your review sums up what I thought it would be like. I wasn’t interested in it and prob wont end up seeing this one. It’s the kind of film that I think should be a documentary instead so I found it interesting that that was your preference by the end of your review.

    Thanks for reviewing it for me. I know you love B.C. How would you rank his performance in this compared to his other work?

    • Thanks T! Yeah, glad RUSH meets my already high expectations as I had heard of people’s praises of it before I finally saw it.

      As for Fifth Estate, well Benedict was the main draw and I think he was quite good in it. I’d say it’s comparable to his other great performances, it’s just Assange is naturally not a likable character so I can see people are not as keen on watching the film. His accent is weird though, but then again I hardly ever listened to Assange himself so can’t really judge. I also love the supporting cast, a great mix of International actors.

    • Hi Eric, Rush is a must-see, I think you’ll enjoy it! As for Fifth Estate, I think it’s still worth a rent if you’re intrigued by the subject matter and like the cast, but yeah I think the documentary might be more well-done in general.

    • Hi Andina, I honestly don’t know if Bruhl even has a chance this year which makes me sad. But I hope his career just keeps going, who knows he might have a better shot in the future. W/ Oscar, it’s not just about the performance, there are so many factor to get through in terms of visibility.

  15. I prefer RUSH, which is an entertaining drama. The Fifth Estate just feels a bit messy. Apart from the leads in TFE, the supporting actors have nothing to do. Of course, the same could be said about RUSH.

    • I hear ya about The Fifth Estate being a mess. But perhaps that subject matter is better suited for a documentary, unless of course you’ve got a director like Fincher who managed to inject something fresh to such an adaptation, like he did w/ The Social Network.

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