Gran Turismo is a biopic that is based on the rise of the real-life race car driver Jann Mardenborough, a young teenager from the UK who is obsessed with the PlayStation game Gran Turismo. The film tells the story of how he came to be a professional race car driver for Team Nissan after being selected through a contest that saw some of the best Gran Turismo players be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A Still From Gran Turismo (Photo Credits: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

When I initially learned about Gran Turismo, I was perplexed as to how a movie based on a game that is essentially a racing simulator could be made. And the filmmakers manage to deliver a heartwarming biopic of an underdog while navigating Jann's story in this case. The movie does, however, take a bit to get going because it's buried under layers of melodrama that typically doesn't feel authentic.

The personal story is set up in the first act of the movie, which mostly focuses on Jann's home life. His father Steve (Djimon Hounsou) isn't exactly supportive of his desire to race, and the situation just becomes overly routine to the point that you feel like you've seen this tale a gazillion times before. There is a setup of romance too that unfortunately feels half-baked, Gran Turismo's primary problem seems to be that it can't balance topics that are outside of its main premise.

Watch the Trailer for Gran Turismo:

Where the film does find its heart is on the race track and that’s exactly what you will be watching Gran Turismo for. After you get beyond the first setup, Jann's story has a delightful underdog element, and Archie Madekwe makes a solid protagonist. If you enjoy driving and racing in general, Gran Turismo delves deeply into the physics involved in real-world competition. It establishes how there is much more to it than just driving that makes the entire experience seem intriguing, and it nearly feels instructive in some ways.

As Jann's trainer and the team's chief engineer, Jack Slater, David Harbour pulls off a fantastic performance. He is unquestionably the highlight of the film, and a lot of Gran Turismo's emotional impact comes from his chemistry with Madekwe's Jann. Orlando Bloom, who plays Danny Moore, the marketing executive who organises the entire tournament, regrettably doesn't get much to do in this film.

A Still From Gran Turismo (Photo Credits: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

While Jann’s underdog story is fun to watch on screen, there is a bit of controversial aspect to it that I just couldn’t shake off. Gran Turismo recreates the infamous crash that Jann suffered in 2015 in Nurburgring Nordschleife that tragically saw the death of a spectator take place, but it’s the handling of the event that left a sour taste in my mouth. The script by Jason Hall and Zach Baylin alters the timeline of the actual crash to 2013 so that it could take place earlier during Jann’s career and Gran Turismo uses it as a crutch to give Jann a motivational boost in the film. It’s a tasteless inclusion that does dock down an overall fun film.

Gran Turismo's racing sequences, though, are thrilling and feature a lot of Blomkamp's best direction in the film. I particularly appreciated the excitement I had as a result of the film's recreation of many of the game's aesthetic elements and the addition of genuine stakes. I was truly eager to see how each race would surpass the previous one because that is where cinematographer Jacques Jouffret's flair for aesthetics is at its best. It's in these moments that I believe Gran Turismo deserves its dues. Particularly the climax finale during the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a visually appealing set piece that does deliver on the suspense. Gran Turismo Review: Archie Madekwe and David Harbour's Movie Receives Positive Response From Critics.

A Still From Gran Turismo (Photo Credits: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

I also really enjoyed how Gran Turismo was able to sell the point of the positive long-lasting impression the videogame has had. It very much respects the history of it and honours it in a way that was surprising to see.

Final Thoughts

Gran Turismo isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s a fun and feel-good underdog tale that certainly does the job given at hand. For enthusiasts of racing and cars, the film will be an entertaining trip to the theatres and one that does provide for many exhilarating sequences when it takes the camera down to the track. Gran Turismo releases in theatres on August 25, 2023.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Aug 24, 2023 08:00 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website