Gran Turismo Revs A Solid Underdog Story (Movie Review)

Gran Turismo Movie reviewGran Turismo is a video game franchise of which I have owned every title of on every Sony gaming console.  That also includes the VR and the portable handheld editions.  To say I am a fan of the Gran Turismo franchise is like saying cows love grazing on grass.  They live for it and so YES I’m a huge fan!  I have fond memories of building out my Mitsubishi Eclipses on the earlier Sony Playstation consoles.  Awww…the good ole days.  However, let’s be honest with ourselves.  Gran Turismo isn’t just a game.  Oh no!  It’s a full blown racing simulator.  And let me be the first to tell you or maybe the second or third depending on how many reviews you have read thus far.  This movie proves Gran Turismo is the ultimate racer driving simulator.  Definitely do not try any of this at home, but do read my full Gran Turismo review below to find out why.

Up until now I didn’t know the checkered history of this film’s production.  It was originally developed in 2013 and even had Joseph Kosinski attached to direct, but that all ended up getting scrapped.  Fast forward to May 2022 and we have sci-fi filmmaker Neill Blomkamp hired to direct a screenplay written by Jason Hall.  Wise man once told me Neill doesn’t write good films, but he can direct the hell out of someone else’s script.  This flick was also shot pretty fast too. The main cast of Gran Turismo was just announced last September of 2022, while others signed in November. The actual filming began in Hungary in the very same month and wrapped in December.  Either it was an easy shoot or the stars aligned with zero issues as that’s an aggressive timeline in my opinion for a film of this huge scale, but I digress.  Maybe that’s why I am not a filmmaker as I feel this one would take me a decade to make.  Moving on…

What makes this one so much more fantastic to learn about is that Gran Turismo is not only about the Polyphony Digital “video game, ” but it’s actually based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough.  Now I had no idea who this Jann was but fret not you’ll find out very soon.  In the movie Jann’s character is portrayed by Archie Madekwe.  Apple TV+ fans may recognize him as Aquaman’s son in the streamer’s television show See.  Stranger Things’ David Harbour steals the show in my opinion as the veteran race car driver hired to train Archie’s character.  Rounding out the cast are a very grown up Orlando Bloom (no longer looking like his young Legolas self) and one of my personal favorites, Dijmon Hounsou.  Other cast members include Geri Halliwell-Horner, Daniel Puig, Josha Stradowski, Thomas Kretschmann, Maeve Courtier-Lilley, Emelia Hartford, Pepe Barroso, Sang Heon Lee and more.

Gran Turismo does both an effective and a thrilling job in retelling the riveting success of Jann Mardenborough in the professional world of racing.  And for those of you who really want to know who Jann is before going into Gran Turismo I suppose I can spill the beans on this at least.  Jann is a teenage guru, arguably one of the best in the world you could say, at playing the Gran Turismo game on console.  That’s good enough to get him a shot at becoming a bonafide professional race car driver for team Nissan.  You see they wanted to prove or disprove depending on how you look at it that if you’re good enough at the Gran Turismo racing simulator, then those skills should in theory translate into driving a real race car just as effective enabling one to compete against other “real” racers.  That sounds like a huge stretch to me, but with a little determination, Rocky-like training and the right mentor I suppose anything is possible.  And who doesn’t like a father doesn’t believe in you underdog story, am I right?!

Now I know Gran Turismo is not winning a lot of positive points on review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes for example.  However, I want you to forget that website for a moment.  I want you to envision how thrilling it is playing the console version of this game…assuming you like it of course.  Now I want you to think about how amazing it would be to transfer those thoughts to real life on very real race tracks, which are all coincidentally featured in that game.  You’re behind the wheel of a real car for real!  Double the ante now with real life human beings full of everyday drama that we all face in our ordinary lives and how mind-blowing it would be to prove to the world you are capable of doing something that the whole world thinks you are not.  This is the real story of Gran Turismo.  It’s more than just a video game adaptation, but if you say it in those terms, it’s also one of the most effective ones ever in my opinion.  So there’s that!

I think initially my fear going in is I wasn’t going to be able to relate.  What I mean by that is not only am I not a huge gamer (really life doesn’t really work that way), but as I grow older I find it harder and harder to connect with the younger generation within movies.  The dialogue for me is usually cringe worthy and the end result is the feature becomes not relatable to me due to the age differences.  Thankfully that’s not the case here!  Not only is the dialog not cringeworthy, but we also have a grown up Orlando Bloom who holds his own here and the very lovable and to me very relatable grumpy. old man, David Harbour.  I got to be honest with myself.  I am not sure I can envision this working without David’s drive, motivating words (if you can call them that) and his pessimistic attitude, which makes even the doer in me accomplish things in life.  It helps if you love the game, yes.  It also helps if you love racing movies.  However, what it all boils down to for me is…do you love an underdog story?

There’s also definitely enough nostalgia within the film and nods to the video game to make this moviegoing geek smile.  Like I said up above what really wins me over is this movie’s heart, emotional connections/grounding and one hell of a solid underdog story that you honestly can’t help but to applaud in the movie’s larger than life conclusion.  There’s also some really cool effects to boot in how it translates the game to real life driving, but I gotta save you something to wonder about for the theater.  trust me though it’s pretty cool how Neill puts you in the driver’s seat here and stays true to the game at the same time.

So did I whet your appetite just enough?  If not, look at it this way.  You can either be enamored by more and more pink colors and/or watch talking big heads for three hours OR you can get behind the wheel and race some really fast Nissan cars, experience many high speed thrills and while you’re at it see some amazing international sights while you’re at it (of course I’m talking about you Tokyo).  I know what one I’d pick.  I’m just saying.  Enjoy!  Vroom…vroom!

Gran Turismo Movie review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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