As a film I’d give it 4/5. As F1 history it has to take a knock down to 3.5/5. Hunt and Lauda’s rivalry is portrayed as antagonistic rather than the friendship of real life, which was inevitable as supposedly that makes for a better film and plot development as they eventually come to respect each other.
A few things are omitted, such as Hunt’s disqualification from the British Grand Prix and a few small things are added in to develop the plot and to keep up the film’s pace, which is one of its best features; it doesn’t drag in places like so many films do nowadays. The only thing that grated me was that the Monza scenes are blatantly Brands Hatch, but all the other racing scenes are either authentic or indistinguishable from where they’re meant to be.
Daniel Bruhl steals the shows as Lauda, he gives a fantastic performance and you don’t see anything but Lauda. Chris Hemsworth plays Hunt very well but he doesn’t have the voice down as much as Bruhl. The Hesketh team is very well portrayed. It’s a shame more drivers don’t make an appearance outside of the cars and helmets, the characters in this film are very much featured as necessary, though there are a few good look-alikes in scenes, including a very obvious Graham Hill in one scene.
A side note, at first I thought they’d brought in a Murray Walker impersonator to commentate the race scenes but it’s actually Simon Taylor!
Overall the film is very well-paced, there is very little filler or unnecessary exposition, a few niggly things to annoy the diehard fan but plenty to entertain the average movie-goer. I’d certainly place this above “Senna” as a good F1 film, though direct comparison is obviously difficult as they have different approaches. There is a sense of Lauda being the villain but it’s hard to make Lauda a more likable character. His views and philosophy on racing are given as much time as Hunt as is his personal life; there’s no one-sided character assassination like Prost in “Senna” and after the Nürburgring crash if you want Hunt to win the championship it’s not out of hate for Lauda.
The final scene is very moving; I won’t spoil it but prepare to fight back a few tears.