Eye For Film >> Movies >> Gran Turismo (2023) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
When Sony and Nissan decided to let video gamers compete for a chance to race real-life race cars, Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) beat about 90,000 other players for the opportunity. This film relates - with a fair degree of poetic licence - the story of what happened next as he trains to become an professional driver, a journey that would become marked by incident.
In terms of story, this is largely a run around a familiar track, with complete with a pitstop involving Jann's desire to win the approval of his ex-professional footballer dad Steve (Djimon Hounsou) and his longing to win on the racing circuit. He is mentored by retired driver Jack Slater (Stranger Things’ David Harbour bringing what depth he can to a role that is also fully kitted out with cliches), as slick marketer Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom) tries to make bank from the situation.
The performances are generally fine if unremarkable - although it's bizarre that despite Mardenborough’s hometown being in Wales, not a single actor here has a Welsh accent. Alongside Harbour, Geri Halliwell, in particulary, acquits herself well as Jann's mum, bringing genuine emotion when it’s called for despite having little build up from the script. There's also an amusing nod to the music Jann listens to in his off-hours, in contrast to Jack's Black Sabbath soundtrack.
Unsurprisingly the film is at its best when it’s on the various tracks - from the Nurburgring through to the Paris Le Mans Circuit de la Sarthe - where the camera swoops match those from the game to give a decent adrenaline rush, although the editing often makes this quite choppy rather than staying in the sweet spot of the racing line. Scenes in which we see the car take shape digitally around Jann seem aimed at gamers but I wonder if that might be a hold over for when Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski was in line to make the film, as it feels like a device that, like much in the film, never realises its full potential.
The way the film deals with a genuine tragedy that occurred during Mardenborough’s racing is also poor. While an acknowledgement of what happened is to the filmmakers’ credit, the fact that the incident is treated like little more than a bump on the road that is quickly forgotten feels uncomfortable. A solid performer at speed but every time it slows to consider Mardenborough’s backstory it feels as though it is running on the fumes of other, better films.Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2023