My main problem with Rush that prevents me from really liking the movie as much as everyone else, is that I feel like the film is a character piece that doesn't dig all that much into its characters.
The story chronicles the rivalry between formula 1 racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Hunt is a muscular playboy who beds numerous women and parties hard, but he's not one-hundred percent at peace with what he does for a living. He's good at it and he isn't afraid, but he's troubled. His hands shake under the table at press conferences and he throws up in private just about every time before he gets into the car. Thankfully he can hide that all away behind his demeanor. Lauda has a face that is described to be "ratty". He is rude, condescending, and the only reason he probably doesn't get his ass kicked is because he is also incredibly talented. He is pragmatic, logical, and has an argumentative 'I'm-always-right' mentality about himself. If Hunt has internal problems hidden behind an impressive brawn than Lauda has external problems (especially after a grave injury that takes place later in the film) protected by his braininess. They are polar opposites; archetypes that simply exist and carry the characters to the end of the film. There is some growth in the third act, but ultimately it is choreographed early and partially ignored as the narrative just moves from race to race as if to almost keep up with the vast history the story wishes to portray.
That being said, the film is beautifully shot by Anthony Dodd Mantle (Danny Boyle's usual director of photography), has a profoundly moving score by Hans Zimmer, and director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan (the two worked together previously on Frost/Nixon) are smart enough to never make the film feel that repetitive. The cinematography, editing, and sound design feels different for every race and has a fluidity that makes up for what I felt was a motionless plot. Daniel Bruhl's performance as Lauda is also exemplary. There really is no other word for it. Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, and the rest of the cast are certainly good, but Bruhl seems to be at a whole other immersive level with his work here that his Lauda displaces the other characters. Howard is normally known for making crowd-pleasing movies that deal with more complex feelings and topics than most Hollywood films. Examples of this with Howard include Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Frost/Nixon. Rush certainly isn't on par with those, but it is a very well-crafted attempt of bravado storytelling in that mold.