Working in an oft-traversed realm, Gran Turismo director Neill Blomkamp and writers Jason Hall and Zach Baylin have delivered a racing car drama that’s rather different from the others. With plenty of potent auto action, some well-defined characters and welcome fresh components, this is an engaging look at people who overcome their own doubts and perceived shortcomings to help pull off something genuinely unusual. It’s a lively, spunky piece of work with no pretenses and all the more welcome for that. Originally dated for August 11, Sony pivoted amid the actors strike, and is sneak previewing the next two weekends, with the official wide opening on August 25.
For a long time it seemed that becoming a “gamer” was not considered a very likely means of achieving any particular eminence, not to mention real standing, in more legitimate and remunerative realms of endeavor. It was kids’ stuff, certainly something from which you were eventually expected to move on.
But the film is inspired by the career of pro driver Jann Mardenborough (played by Archie Madekwe of Midsommar), and the career of this mixed-race Brit, along with others, helps mark changing times in both the sport and the country itself. It’s a positive-minded film, one with an upbeat attitude, even if a significant part of it addresses a tragic accident that also figures in the film.
What’s fresh and even a bit provocative here is a challenge that’s posed both to the characters and filmmakers: Do you want to remain an observer and an amateur, no matter how good you really are, or do you want to wade into the fray, put yourself on the line and possibly take charge? It’s the difference between playing the game and actually designing it, of going along with things or assuming some control yourself.
Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) and his collaborators no doubt had fun deciding what to include in this fast-moving yarn. There are amusing little scenes from some of the characters’ youths, vignettes from their home lives and an abiding impression that, in another life, the director might easily have done other things; he probably still will.
The long arc of the film describes Jann’s doubts and hesitations about morphing from a very talented amateur to a pro. It really did take a long time for Mardenborough to decide to take his talent seriously and jump in, and the heart of the film is its fine portrait of a young man who finally convinces himself that he could and should take his interest and skills seriously enough to be one of the best.
A large contingent of people come and go through the young man’s life before he can finally decide what he wants to do with his obvious talent, and there are any number of compelling scenes that swiftly convey aspects of his rather tumultuous inner world. When Mardenborough decides once and for all what he — almost inevitably — will do, Gran Turismo takes off to a much higher level, on a road that brings him to Le Mans, which provides the setting for the film’s exceptionally exciting and yet carefully measured climax. That the filmmakers could actually manage to so comprehensively film this enormous race is very impressive.
The film touches on many aspects of life, big and small, and Blomkamp keeps things running at a brisk clip.
Title: Gran Turismo
Release date: August 25, 2023
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Screenwriters: Jason Hall, Zach Baylin
Cast: Archie Madekwe, David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Geri Horner
Running time: 2 hrs 15 min
Content Source: deadline.com