Hans Zimmer is having an incredibly busy year churning out some amazing scores with no signs that he’s spreading himself too thin. He reunited with directors he has worked with many times before and even started new collaborations. Rush sees Hans reuniting with director Ron Howard. The pair have turned out amazing work on films like Backdraft, The Da Vinci Code, Frost/Nixon, Angels & Demons and The Dilemma. It’s amazing how different directors push a composer into new creative territory. For Rush we see Hans departing the dark broody sound we’ve heard from his scores to Nolan’s films. We see him depart big orchestral thematic romps like he did for The Lone Ranger. Here we get a high energy score steeped in a deep character story. Last time we heard Hans in this territory was for Tony Scott’s Days Of Thunder, but here we get a more character driven score. It’s fast, energetic, aggressive and it’ll give you chills within the first minute.
This score starts off with a wonderful establishing track. It gives us the main theme in its full glory, and then we depart from it for a while. We then spend the first half of this score setting up the characters of James and bringing in his rival with Niki. Zimmer goes for an almost rock band approach really giving the rockstar attitude to the characters and the sport. The music immerses us in the culture and lifestyle. The musical style also subtly establishes our time period of the late 70’s. And even though it has a rock band feel it never feels like a performance. The narrative is being pushed every step of the way. The soundtrack has some iconic songs peppered in to really ground the time period so the score doesn’t have to dip too much into that style. As the story progresses the music goes a bit deeper into the psyche of the men, their testosterone fueled rivalry and what really drives them. That "on top of the world" feeling disappears and we the listener are placed between the midst of the complex rivalry that centers the film. That achingly beautiful theme we heard in the first track reappears in the final act. The deep cello notes penetrate the chirping synths and rhythmic percussion like a knife. The theme sends chills down your spine, and the wonderful part is how beautifully simple it is. Hard propulsive percussion is immediately followed by quieter shifting tones and textures. The score never has a predictable trajectory, but the flow takes you exactly where you want to go. I always state that Hans knows how to build a track better than anyone I’ve ever heard. I always find myself holding my breath at moments, goosebumps slowly raising and eyes watering. He is the ultimate dramatist and knows exactly how to build the story and scene musically. Everything builds to the ultimate climax in “Lost But Won” a track that is nothing but pure Zimmer. We find our resolution in the final track as the story closes.
Rush is a tremendous score that strives in its simplicity. Hans pinpoints the focus of the two central characters’ relationship to really push this score in fantastic directions. The music starts off merely to set the stage for the tremendous second half. Hans lets loose with some rock stylings that perfectly echo the world these characters live in. The characters' competitive desires are reflected in the score and really lets the music soar emotionally. The final few tracks are pure Zimmer and end the journey in a grand emotionally riveting fashion. This is a score that stands out for its distinctive soundscape yet undeniable Zimmer style, and shouldn’t be missed.