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There is a beautiful story at the core of Gran Turismo but the movie mostly swaps out emotion for car crashes and corporate game-selling synergy, resulting in a film that’s all flair and no heart.

If Gran Turismo wanted to position itself as a game adaption that is more than one long big-budget Sony commercial it fails from the first second, as the film starts off with an odd hagiographic prologue centred around the racing game's creator.

While the picture does settle into a more conventional 'dream big' narrative - based on the real-life story of Jann Mardenborough, a gamer who eventually ended up on the Le Mans 24-hour race podium - it never quite shakes off that glorified commercial feel.

That's partly due to the approach director Neill Blomkamp takes, who shortchanges the emotional backstory for supercharged racing action. An example: Jann's worried family mostly disappears after the opening 15 minutes despite their son globetrotting from one dangerous race to the next, which severely straddles plausibility.

The same goes for the way Blomkamp films three seperate horror crashes in the film. They are so over-the-top (in one case the car keeps on flipping over and over and over) that no-one in their right mind will believe that the driver manages to escape from them with barely a few scratches and bruises, which further positions Gran Turismo as an extension of a video game instead of a movie in which real stakes are raised.

In short: I had had high hopes that Gran Turismo twould bring a unique human story to a rote video game adaptation. I should have known better ...

release: 2023

director: Neill Blomkamp

starring: Archie Madekwe, David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Djimon Hounsou


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