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Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Christian McKay, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, Natalie Dormer

Director: Ron Howard

The title presumably refers to the adrenalin rush experienced by Formula 1 drivers as they blast away at the start of a race - especially in the dangerous 1970s when, as Niki Lauda (Brühl) says here: 'Every year, two of us die'.

Rewardingly, the film focuses on the intense rivalry between Ladua, who buys his way into F1 but soon proves himself a brilliant technician, and upper-crust Brit James Hunt (Hemsworth), with little money but a playboy lifestyle and a burning desire to be world champion, in many ways the Lewis Hamilton of his day.

The race sequences that follow are tightly edited and not too long, while the leading characters - Hemsworth is, of course, an Australian who normally plays American, and the big screen's Thor - both capture their subjects' speech patterns immaculately, although what the real Lauda, who is still very much alive, thinks about being somewhat portrayed as the villain of the piece, is open to conjecture.

The action of course soon focuses on the Austrian's horrendous accident at the '76 German grand prix, which resulted in burns so severe that they disfigured him for life - and his amazing comeback.

The Hunt-Lauda rivalry is quite neatly written, with some juicy exchanges, although both come across as slightly sad people, if for different reasons - Hunt's wife left him for Richard Burton, and he died from a heart attack at 45.

All in all, it's something of a return to form for director Howard after his flirtation with the practically unfilmable novels of Dan Brown.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour by deluxe.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 07 Sep 2013