Gran Turismo – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Gran Turismo – From Gamer To Racer: A Formula of Dreams

In the likeness of many, can you stand out from the crowd?  A rhetorical question perhaps, but this is very true in the world of film.  Telling a tale is a monumental task, so inspiration and repetition becomes key.   With so many familiar elements in the fray … the ultimate enjoyment will come in the eye of the audience.  In this review, I look at the latest video game adaptation.  Within a recognizable property, we get a story of unbelievable feats and predictable outcomes.  Within a trite and true formula, Gran Turismo is a fun underdog story of the racing kind. 

This is the true story of Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) a gamer who gets the dream of a lifetime.  With nothing but his own guise, will he be able to become … a racecar driver.  On the surface, this film is your typical underdog/sports story.  In the beginning, we are thrust into the film through the drop-in method, as the audience gets an ‘overview’ of the story dynamic through expositional conversations, specific character introductions and a focus on the sport in the spotlight (racing).  Once the foundation is built, the directive moves to build up the main character.  We get a series of scenes where we learn that Jann Mardenborough is known as one of the best Gran Turismo drivers (in the game) but wants to become a real racer.  His dream leads through some familial/character moments that provide the thematic build of ‘chasing dreams’.  Within this thematic footprint, the film moves through some convenient plot points that provides Jann with his big opportunity, the Gran Turismo Academy.  Once he joins the academy, we head into the second act where he meets the head marketer, Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom) and head engineer/trainer Jack Salter (David Harbour).  Their introduction leads to an encircling of the formulaic outline, as the journey falls into the basic ‘point A to B’ linear directive.   As Jann continues his rise through each stage of becoming a racecar driver (Academy, qualifying races, winning a spot on the circuit, etc.), the monotony slowly weaves throughout the journey.  Seeing our main character struggle through each obstacle is predictable, but it’s the relationships that drive the enjoyment.  Even within a familiar story, it is the humanistic elements between Jann and Jack that creates a certain zeal for the audience to root for his achievements.  This parallel feeling provides that raw element of the reality of racing, leading to a genuine touch to the underdog tale. 

As Jann slowly builds up his credence (as a racer), the audience gets to feel the power of the racing.  Through some creative camera work, audio elements and technical focus, you feel the adrenaline of being in the driver seat.  The dangers are revealing because of an honest perspective (on the track), showcasing the highs and lows of being a racecar driver.  With each race, Jann begins to understand the fragile nature of a racer’s psyche, leading to some endearing but consequential moments in his young career.  With everything on the line, we head into a third act of predictable but heartfelt moments.  This leads to the typical triumphant climax and ‘real story’ epilogue.  Gran Turismo is an enjoyable film that’s built off a common formula.  If you are a fan of racing, gaming, underdog/sports stories, this is one for you.  You can have a good time on the big screen, at the right price. 

Full Score – 3 out of 5 (Theater Discount)

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