Gran Turismo

Verdict: Gran Turismo tells an inspiring, crowd-pleasing story and features a top performance from David Harbour

  • David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Emelia Hartford
  • August 9th 2023
  • Neil Blomkamp

Archie Madewke, David Harbour and Orlando Bloom star in Neill Blomkamp’s retelling of a true story involving the Gran Turismo game.

When the Gran Turismo movie was announced, many worried it would be a straightforward film adaptation of the racing game. Fear not!

The film actually tells the inspiring true story of Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madewke), a young man from Cardiff who clocked up thousands of hours on the Gran Turismo racing simulator in his bedroom.

But does he have what it takes to be a racing driver in real life? His skills are put to the test when Nissan marketing executive Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom) organises a contest for sim racers.

There have been many films about racing or sporting competitions over the years and this does follow the tried-and-tested formula and feels quite familiar.

However, there is still plenty in Gran Turismo to make it interesting, particularly Mardenborough.

He is the perfect example of an underdog because nobody in the professional racing world wants him there.

The story gets off to a shaky start and spends too long in his hometown but it becomes more and more compelling as it progresses because the stakes get higher and higher and the competitions get tougher and tougher.

The races are exciting to watch and you become increasingly invested in Mardenborough’s success; you want him to prove the naysayers wrong.

While Madewke’s sensitive and vulnerable performance helps us support the lead character, David Harbour as former racer-turned-coach Jack Salter helps drive the drama home.

He has an irritated exterior but a heart of gold and he eventually forms a sweet partnership with his protégé.

There are many stages to Mardenborough’s story and loads of races that need to be included, so naturally, the film is long at 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Blomkamp could have perhaps shaved off some of the earlier scenes that established Mardenborough’s home life.

Another problem was some of the performances. Bloom felt like he was “acting” compared to his naturalistic co-stars, while Geri Halliwell-Horner was not convincing as Mardenborough’s mum Lesley.

Her presence was distracting because it is impossible to see someone as famous as Ginger Spice in a movie and buy them as anyone else.

To those who feel cynical about a Gran Turismo movie – check it out; this inspiring, feel-good story may surprise you.

In cinemas from Wednesday 9th August.

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