Wed | Nov 29, 2023

‘Gran Turismo’ – Surprisingly solid

Published:Friday | August 25, 2023 | 12:09 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Archie Madekwe in a scene from ‘Gran Turismo’.
This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Archie Madekwe in a scene from ‘Gran Turismo’.

From the young to the old, people from all walks of life enjoy video games. Whether you fancy the immersive worlds of fantasy, the grounded realism of an interactive simulation, or simply flipping your finger to crush some candy. The pastime is regularly regarded as the ultimate time-wasting brain rotter, which might relieve stress, but doesn’t exactly lead to productivity. Unless of course, your name is Jann Mardenborough, who took his obsessive hobby and turned it into a lucrative lifestyle.

Based on a true story, Gran Turismo tells the story of a young man who dreams of taking his skills behind the wheel to the next level. His racing aspiration is met with ridicule, but when a competition gives him a chance to earn his spot on a racetrack, he takes it.

Gran Turismo is an unconventional story with a very rote setup. It takes the formula of the underdog movie, complete with the gruff coach, and oh so many montages. The first half of the film plays out as predictably as you might expect, and the film never quite breaks free of it by the numbers plotting.

Then, in the second half, Gran Turismo does the impossible. It actually manages to thrill. The movie takes big swings for an emotional gut punch and miraculously pulls it off. It’s thanks in no small part to the one-two punch of David Harbour and Djimon Hounsou, whose performances transform the film from a lifetime movie to a bona fide blockbuster drama. Orlando Bloom is also there.

On the outside, the film looks like nothing special. Yet another attempt to cash in on intellectual property, with a dash of biopic razzle-dazzle. Gran Turismo at times feels like a commercial. Its larger-than-life true story is stretched to the limit of credulity. Its plot points can be seen coming a mile away. Yet, its ability to evoke emotion is laudable, and the depiction of daring and dangerous stunts locks you in. Like Jann Mardenborough himself, Gran Turismo is the little movie that could.

Rating: Half Price

Damian Levy is a film critic and podcaster for Damian Michael Movies