In the realm of racing video games, “Gran Turismo” stands as a pinnacle due to its authentic simulation driving, so much so that it has influenced the remarkable journey of one young man and the birth of a film that shares its name.
Derived from the true account of Jann Mardenborough’s transformation from gamer to racer, “Gran Turismo” traces his path through Nissan’s GT Academy. Mardenborough, once among the finest “Gran Turismo” players globally, evolves into a professional driver.
Guiding his ascent are “Stranger Things” luminary David Harbour, portraying Mardenborough’s mentor Jack Salter, and Orlando Bloom as Nissan’s marketing executive Danny Moore (inspired by GT Academy founder Darren Cox). Djimon Hounsou and Spice Girls’ Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell depict his parents.
While the racing film genre was long dominated by the “Fast and Furious” saga, later installments ushered in a diverse direction. Individualistic films like “Baby Driver” and “Drive” gained traction, finding their own acclaim.
The adaptation of racing video games is not novel, exemplified by “Need for Speed” and “Initial D.” Furthermore, 2008’s “Speed Racer” is cementing its place as a cult favorite. However, biopics like “Ford v Ferrari” and “Rush” have set the bar high for high-speed vehicular cinema.
What “Gran Turismo” excels at is gleaning insights from comparable movies. Audiences anticipate the racing experience, yearning to sense the intensity of each twist, gear shift, brake, and pit stop as the laps accumulate.
Enhancing this experience is the virtual integration of gaming simulation, an ingenious choice by director Neill Blomkamp. This innovation contributes to an exhilarating cinematic spectacle.
Director of photography Jacques Joffret and editors Colby Parker, Jr. and Austyn Daines could rival the “Ford v Ferrari” team. They capture a gripping 24 Hours of Le Mans sequence and apply equally inventive techniques that elevate the film’s excitement.
The narrative’s weak point lies in its deviations from Mardenborough’s life for artistic liberty. While understandable to an extent, it’s important to recognize that the primary draw of the film is top-tier racing, and “Gran Turismo” delivers that in abundance.
It’s intriguing to note that Mardenborough served as the stunt driver for actor Archie Madekwe, who adeptly embodies an amateur driver thrust into the limelight, thereby adding an extra layer of authenticity to the driving sequences.
Despite a conventional screenplay, Harbour delivers as a toughened motivator with straightforward lines, whereas Bloom injects charisma into a corporate character operating with a profit-driven outlook.
Hounsou and Halliwell find themselves underutilized, a concession to the film’s primary emphasis on racing. Halliwell, like Harbour, delivers an enjoyable performance, while Hounsou impresses in a scene just before the climax, showcasing his acting prowess.
Composer Lorne Balfe, following his work on “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Black Adam” last year, continues his streak with contributions to 2023’s “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One,” “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” and “Tetris.”
Balfe’s collaboration with Andrew Kawczynksi on the “Gran Turismo” score falls short, leaving room for viewers to deduce the anticipation harbored by Mardenborough and his associates.
Notably, credit is due to the well-chosen songs, including tunes by Kenny G and Enya, which infuse the film with moments of levity.
While “Gran Turismo” falls short of achieving the mastery of “Ford v Ferrari,” it certainly offers the racing genre a renewed perspective that audiences will enthusiastically embrace.
“Gran Turismo” premieres in Philippine cinemas on August 30, with advance screenings on August 21 and 22.
Gran Turismo 2023 Trailer