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Gran Turismo

average rating is 3 out of 5


Brian Penn


Posted on:

Aug 26, 2023

Film Reviews
Gran Turismo
Directed by:
Neill Blomkamp
Written by:
Jason Hall, Zach Baylin
Orlando Bloom, David Harbour, Archie Madekwe

The big screen is made for motor racing with its dazzling mix of sound and physical drama. Watching the action from left to right complements the intense relationship between driver and machine. Gran Turismo is based on a true story which should add to the lustre of this film directed by Neill Blomkamp. However, the end product is a mixed bag that often promises more than it delivers.


The story kicks off in Cardiff as teenager Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) becomes increasingly hooked on the Gran Turismo race simulator. His despairing parents want him to pick up his studies at university but Jann dreams of being a racing driver for real; as a gamer he’s mastered every engine and racetrack. If only he could do it for real? The chance presents itself when he emerges as a top scoring gamer. He is invited to the GT Academy to train a professional driver. The Academy is the brainchild of marketing executive Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom). He convinces the Nissan Motorsport team that the best ‘sim racers’ can be turned into real drivers. Moore recruits frazzled ex-driver Jack Salter (David Harbour) as chief mechanic but can the theory ever work in practice?


It’s blatantly obvious this film is a PlayStation co-production with its clinical representation of the game at regular intervals. When Jann is in race mode his mind drifts back to endless hours playing the game. Whilst these sequences are brilliantly constructed they’re not really needed. This might be an inevitable by-product of the film’s origins. But when Jann actually becomes a driver it should be more about him, the machine and his opponents. The real strength is that it plays into a fantasy that afflicts many children when they’re growing up. Gaming opens the door to a more glamourous existence for the players. Gran Turismo the film proves that dreams can turn into reality.


The unique selling point is the truth of the story being told. However, they overplay their hand, especially in the closing captions where they proclaim that Jann Mardenborough has changed the face of motor sport forever. Whilst it’s true he broke new ground as an inexperienced driver Jann wasn’t that influential. He has raced at junior level e.g. GP2 and GP3 which puts him in Formula 3 territory. Exaggeration aside this remains a well-made, entertaining romp.

About the Film Critic
Brian Penn
Brian Penn
Theatrical Release
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