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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Rush

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Chris Hemsworth and James Hunt star in a scene from the movie "Rush."
The 1976 Formula One racing season provides the backdrop for the fact-based drama "Rush" (Universal).

As he portrays the rivalry between that year's two leading drivers—freewheeling British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and obsessively disciplined Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl)—director Ron Howard skillfully ratchets up the suspense, and the foreboding.

Yet, as scripted by Peter Morgan, Howard's film presents audiences with a range of morally unsettling elements as well as with an emotionally wrenching sequence involving gory wounds. Accordingly, it makes appropriate viewing neither for the squeamish nor for those lacking in maturity and discernment.

Hunt's dissolute ways draw his relentlessly focused chief competitor's jealousy and resentment; while Lauda's humorless Teutonic temperament becomes the target of Hunt's contempt. Recklessly, the two contenders spur each other on to ever more dangerous tactics.

Off the track, in a bid to mute his own excesses, Hunt impulsively proposes to high-profile model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde). Though their union reins in his alley-cat impulses, it does nothing to curb his drinking or his self-centeredness, and the stage is set for future conflicts.

Lauda, meanwhile, falls for chance acquaintance Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara), a fellow German-speaker who knows nothing, initially, of his fame as a racer. Though their romance is a predictably low-key affair, events prove their connection durable, Lauda's prickly personality notwithstanding.

The movie's climax highlights the folly of Hunt and Lauda's safety-disdaining feud. Still, viewers committed to the sanctity of life will note that the prospect of some fatal disaster is precisely what imbues both their sport—and this picture about it—with the dynamics of high-stakes drama.

As for the sexual escapades that make up a significant aspect of Hunt's private life, they're presented not only unblinkingly, but in a way that tends to glamorize them as well. Such bedroom scenes, however, take up only a tiny fraction of the running time.

Though it's equally fleeting, and set within the context of an extremely stressful situation, an exchange of dialogue showing one central character's obscenely expressed aversion to the ministrations of a Catholic priest can hardly fail to give offense to those who cherish the faith.

In the larger scheme of things, though, Hunt and Lauda's respective fates, detailed before the final credits roll, can be taken as a cautionary tale—one that would seem to vindicate moderation over decadence.

The film contains strong sexual content—including graphic casual sexual activity, an aberrant situation, and upper female and rear nudity—drug use, gruesome medical images, brief harsh violence, an instance of highly irreverent humor, an adultery theme, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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