Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Wish fulfilment story of a teenage Gran Turismo Playstation video game player
Based on a true story
Professional race car drivers at high skill levels
The roles of parents
Archie Madekwe … Jann Mardenborough
David Harbour … Jack Salter, Jann’s traine
Orlando Bloom … Danny Moore, a motorsport marketing executive (based on GT Academy founder Darren Cox)
Darren Barnet … Matty Davis, a top GT Academy driver threatened by Jann’s success
Djimon Hounsou … Steve Mardenborough, Jann’s father
Geri Horner … Lesley Mardenborough, Jann’s mother
Josha Stradowski … Nicholas Capa
Emelia Hartford … Leah Vega
Daniel Puig … Cai Mardenborough, Jann’s brother
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|Director||Neill Blomkamp—“District 9” (2009), “Elysium” (2013), “Chappie” (2015)|
Epic Films [United Arab Emirates]
Michael De Luca Productions
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|Distributor||Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures|
“From gamer to racer”
Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) has been through the ringer. I mean his father has been on his case about doing something meaningful with his life, not just sit and play video games. His mother tells him, “Why don’t you go back to university?” Jann’s been through that but grew tired of sitting in lectures and coursework. His father warns him, “Jann, if you don’t figure out what to do with your life and stop playing video games, you’re going to be working with me at my job.”
Jann loves video games and is obsessed with one video game in particular, “Gran Turismo,” a simulated racing game with all the actual feelings of driving a race car (e.g, how quick the acceleration is, the delay in shifting gears, the exact way it steers, the real physics of a racing car).
It just so happens that there is “Gran Turismo” tournament. This is no ordinary tournament. The top six winners, from all over the world, will be invited to attend the Nissan Academy where they will be put to the test. The prize? The driver that makes it through the Academy will be given a contract to drive for Nissan in all future races. Crazy, right? You wouldn’t be the first person to think so.
Crew Chief Jack Salter (David Harbour) thinks this idea is absolutely insane and dangerous. “You’re going to take a bunch of teens who have never driven a real car and strap them to a 200 mile an hour rocket?” he says to Nissan motorsport executive, Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom). “Yep,” Danny says. Eventually, however, Jack decides to jump on board.
Join Jann and his fellow drivers as they take their tremendous journey from gamer to actual driver, in what can only be described as the most ambitious and crazy thing to ever happen to racing… and it’s all true.
I had the rare opportunity to witness an early screening of “Gran Turismo” at my local theater. I had absolutely NO idea, nor did anyone in attendance, that we would be viewing “Gran Turismo” as it was part of the theater’s “Monday Movie Mystery.” When I saw the title appear on the screen, I was enormously excited and quietly exclaimed “Yes!” This is a film I had been absolutely dying to view. I had incredibly high expectations, based on the trailers and the concept in general (especially since I’m such an avid video gamer myself).
Without providing any spoilers, since this is an early review, “Gran Turismo” did not disappoint in the slightest. Director Neill Blomkamp took an amazing and distinctive approach to how this story is filmed. The various types of camerawork is impressive, sure, but what is truly jaw-dropping are the film’s visuals. There is one moment in particular where I exclaimed “Super cool.” It is during one of Jann’s races (and this doesn’t spoil anything, I promise). As Jann is driving and trying to visualize the track he played in the game and apply it to the REAL track, there is a short transition where Jann goes from being in the real race car to the time he was practicing at home, and we witness the blue outlines and the makeup of the race car disappear around Jann.
The pacing is spot-on perfect. There is a healthy balance between the intense sequences (such as competing against the other tournament players, the races) and the calmer moments of the film. I never felt as if I wasn’t receiving enough of either. The intense sequences, when they occur, are indeed nail-biting, edge of your seat moments, especially knowing that everything on screen actually occurred, but I smiled throughout (well, most of the time).
The performances by Archie Madekwe and David Harbour are incredible as Jann and Jack. They have terrific chemistry on screen. David Harbour is, in my opinion, an expert of his craft. He is able to carefully go from 100 to 50 with his character’s tone and demeanor, going from someone the audience isn’t fond of to someone you can’t help but be in awe of at the end. Archie gives an impressive performance as well and is no stranger to the screen (“Midsommar,” “See” and various films and projects with the BBC). Archie gives a very impassioned and in-depth look at Jann.
The one thing I WASN’T impressed with, as much as I love this film, is the language. There is a moderate amount of profanity, including one f-bomb that REALLY wasn’t necessary, that the film really didn’t need. However, there are no sexual scenes, no nudity, no drugs, and a couple of scenes of alcohol to contend with (brief scenes really). Speaking of content…
Before you view the content of concern, please be aware that I was avidly and rapidly trying to type the content into my phone, as I had not intended to review this film until two weeks later, so I wasn’t able to catch everything.
Violence: There are two scenes where massive car wrecks occur during races (in both instances an individual is killed). The first wreck involves a race car crashing into the side wall and catching fire with the driver still inside. The second and third wreck include massive roll overs—one of which results in a spectator being crushed and killed by the car. We witness another car crashing against the barrier during a race. There is a scene where some teens are fleeing from the police, and there is some reckless driving as a result. Someone wonders if they have “blood on their hands.”
Vuglarity: F*ck (1), Sh*t (9), BS (1), Sh*tting (1), Pr*cks (1), B*llocks (1), A** (1) and the phrase “looking at porn”
Sex: Someone does a brief pelvic thrust during a dance. Two couples share a kiss
Alcohol: There are a couple brief moments where teens are seen drinking (though these teens are doing this in England, so it is legal) and there are a couple moments of drinking at the racing events and at a dinner.
Wokeism: None, this is simply a story about racing.
Other: We witness someone throw up. As mentioned earlier, there is a seen where teens are racing from the police.
Toward the beginning of the film, Jann’s father is not ecstatic about Jann’s dream of becoming a professional race car driver. He believes Jann needs to do something more meaningful and useful with his life. Jann’s father does not believe in him.
Parenting is extremely difficult, but rewarding. Parents play such a critical role in a child’s development and even into adulthood. Parents are to love their children unconditionally, as Christ loves us, raise them up in the Lord, and support them in their dreams and aspirations. The Bible is very clear on the role of parents…
“Train up a child in the ways he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it” —Proverbs 22:6
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” —Ephesians 6:4
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” —Deuteronomy 6:6-7
On the flip side of this, children are commanded to honor their father and mother (Exodus 20:2), not simply because it is one of the Ten Commandments, but because parents are due the honor and respect they have earned. Speaking of true followers of Christ, the Apostle Paul states…
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” —Colossians 3:20
There are far too few inspirational, relatively clean films to attend in this day and age (no film is perfectly clean, at least not from Hollywood). For all its faults (and the vulgar language and profanity is a large fault), “Gran Turismo” has some wonderful themes: courage, comradery, loving your enemy, carrying burdens, the roles of parents, etc. And, in general, I feel the positive themes outweigh the content issues.
“Gran Turismo” is a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping biographical, racing film with some stupendous performances and cinematography. In short, believe the hype surrounding “Gran Turismo.” However, I don’t recommend this film for children, especially due to the coarse language.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.