Plot: What’s it about?
While I had my years (many moons ago) playing and enjoying a lot of video games, I essentially gave it up cold turkey. That isn’t to say I couldn’t enjoy one in my adult life, but it’s something I grew out of and never looked back on. Life happened and other interests took the place of playing games. I know of Gran Turismo only by name. I heard a lot about it, but never sat down to play it. I’m sure I would since racing games can be a lot of fun but that wasn’t to be. I bring this up because I had next to zero expectations for the film adaption either way. At the very least, it looked like a perfectly entertaining racing film that would do little to stand above its peers. Indeed, my initial assumption is mostly true as the film touches on many familiar beats, but I still had a good time with it even if it went on too long. Let’s read on, shall we?
Based on a true story (I am surprised by this) of a young man named Jann (Archie Madewe) who spends mostly all his time in his bedroom playing Gran Turismo, much to his father’s dismay. Djimon Hounsou plays his father, Steve. He feels he should focus his hobbies and interests elsewhere, like his younger brother, Cai (Daniel Puig). Meanwhile, we follow Danny (a miscast Orlando Bloom) as an exec for Nissan who concocts a plan to have racers who play the game, train, and eventually compete in a real-life race. While Jack (David Harbour) isn’t Danny’s first choice, it isn’t long before he agrees to help Danny. Jack is a former racer, but he is to be Danny’s CEO. Jann doesn’t pass up the opportunity to enter the contest. The film has a lot of fun in its early moments, showing Jann’s personal life which involves sneaking out of the house one night with his brother. This is largely because Audrey (Maeve Courtier-Lilley) will be there. Their romantic angle is decent, but the training and racing sequences hold the most interest here. It is nice to see a true underdog story like this as we follow Jann’s journey to the top. The film does a good job at detailing what must be done for Jann to advance further. Whether it’s ensuring he finishes in fourth place or captioning some of the racing world lingo to make sure we’re on the same page, those details kept me involved. There are a couple of surprises as well, including an accident on the racetrack towards the end of the film.
Gran Turismo can be a lot of fun at times, with the racing sequences feeling quite intense. This is a film made for platinum screens. But the film simply runs too long. While the story is familiar, the execution is a cut above what we usually find in this kind of story. I just think a leaner film could’ve made more of an impact. Also, Orlando Bloom wouldn’t have been my first choice. He feels a little awkward at times with his facial expressions and reactions to some of the situations here. Still, if you are willing to go along for the ride, a good time can be had.
The Bottom Line
Familiar and far from perfect, I still enjoyed this film. It is too long and could lose some fat, but overall, it’s a fun and effective film for those wanting to fulfill a couple of hours of excitement. Orlando Bloom is the weak link here, but otherwise the film earns my recommendation.