Gran Turismo Review: Big Screen Skid Fails to Shift into Excitement
There’s a thin line between racing towards victory and skidding into mediocrity, and “Gran Turismo” navigates that curve with the grace of a novice driver stuck in the mud. Directed by Neill Blomkamp and based on the Sony PlayStation game, the film takes viewers on a race that somehow both dazzles and drags, never quite achieving a full-throttle triumph.
The film accelerates from the start line with the compelling true story of Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe), a young Welsh gamer turned professional race-car driver. There’s an inherent allure in the transition from virtual competition to real-life asphalt adventures, and the premise could have been the launchpad for a poignant exploration of dreams, determination, and the reality of ambition. However, the story’s intriguing ignition quickly stalls.
“Gran Turismo” opts for a familiar underdog playbook, making pit stops at every cliché in the genre. The training montages set to loud music, the inspiring but formulaic words of wisdom from David Harbour’s wise, rugged coach, and Orlando Bloom’s somewhat flat portrayal of a marketing executive collectively steer the narrative into a predictable lane.
Blomkamp, once celebrated for innovative works like “District 9,” seems to have downshifted here. While he successfully crafts exciting race scenes with dynamic overhead shots and sleek editing, his attention to storytelling sputters. There’s a cold, corporate polish to the film that distances viewers from truly connecting with the heart-pounding excitement of racing or the emotional turmoil of Mardenborough’s journey.
Mr. Madekwe’s Jann is a bright spot, displaying an appealing, shy awkwardness that invites sympathy. But even his likable performance can’t overcome the script’s deficiency in character depth. The scenes that should evoke passion, tension, or triumph often feel as mechanical as a well-oiled machine, lacking the human touch that resonates. The film’s inability to grapple with moral questions, especially surrounding a real-life accident involving Mardenborough, hints at a lack of courage to delve into deeper, more provocative themes.
“Gran Turismo” crosses the finish line as a film with commendable race aesthetics but fails to podium in terms of narrative richness and emotional resonance. Its revved-up premise loses momentum in execution, coasting on the familiarity of genre tropes rather than racing toward something new and exciting. It’s a cinematic ride that’s rarely thrilling but largely forgettable.
For a film that might have challenged our perceptions of reality and ambition, the checkered flag waves with disappointment.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5.
Gran Turismo is in theaters on August 25th.