GRAN TURISMO Benefits From a Winning Underdog Story

Filmmakers have gotten away with claiming that their supposed biographical movies are based on actual events for so long. As we have learned recently (The Blind Side), these claims should always be taken carefully. Liberties are taken regularly. I only know part of the story behind Jann Mardenborough’s experiences as a skilled Gran Turismo player-turned-professional race car driver. At this point, filmmaker Neil Blomkamp and his cast and crew have done a great job selling an exciting underdog story with exciting white-knuckle racing sequences.

As told by this movie, Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) spends much of his time perfecting his skills while excelling in the racing simulator game known as Gran Turismo. Jann feels so confident in his abilities that he could succeed as a real race car driver. He gets the opportunity of a lifetime when Sony Playstation, Nissan, and the game’s creators give their best players the chance to live this dream.

I went into this film very skeptical but hopeful that I would find some enjoyment and entertainment value. And I was mostly pleasantly surprised. Unlike many other movies based on video games, Gran Turismo focuses on its protagonist’s development as a natural, flesh-and-blood character, making the overall experience more compelling and accessible. In addition to this attribute, the film can boast some thrilling and tense racing sequences that look and sound incredible on the big screen. Blomkamp and his crew do a fantastic job of capturing and editing these scenes, making the theatrical experience worthwhile.

The filmmakers have also assembled an excellent cast of talented actors who inject this sports movie with much heart and passion. Starting with the protagonist, Archie Madekwe, brings much earnestness and vulnerability to his character that should make most audience members root for him. As Jann’s trainer, Jack Salter, David Harbour is exceptional as a dedicated racing coach who initially does not believe gamers have a place in the sport. As Danny Moore, the Nissan executive in charge of this promotion, Orlando Bloom performs well as the company man, risking his career on a huge gamble. The movie also features outstanding turns by Djimon Hounsou and Geri Halliwell as Jann’s concerned but loving parents, who are reluctant to accept their son’s bold ambitions.

My biggest gripe about the film is its reliance on beats from other movies, such as Top Gun. These stand out during the movie’s run but ultimately take only a little away from the experience. Because of the heart and the exciting race sequences, I highly recommend that people see Gran Turismo in a theater. While it covers some familiar territory, it is a fun and compelling ride. Hopefully, the real Jann doesn’t come forward to say that this story is entirely false.

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