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  • Writer's pictureOli Law

Gran Turismo ★★★

Neill Blomkamp

Starring Archie Madekwe, David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Djimon Hounsou, Daniel Puig

The blend of video games and blockbuster feature films has always been a difficult formula for Hollywood to crack. Between the dismal cash grab of Uncharted and the note perfect tone of Detective Pikachu charges Gran Turismo - A racing rags to riches to story cemented in real world history itself.

Obsessed with the eponymous PlayStation racing simulator, Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madewke) is handpicked by sleazy Marketing Executive Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom) to join an academy of gamers that will select one amateur to race professionally, reluctantly lead by their sardonic trainer Jack Salter (David Harbour).

You would be forgiven for watching the trailer and immediately forgetting this movie even existed. The premise is as ridiculous as it sounds, yet the fact it actually happened becomes the catalyst that keeps you fully invested.

David Harbour carries the movie on his Hellboy-heavy shoulders with a flawless portrayal that grounds the absurdity of Gran Turismo’s mission (plot) with wit and locks in natural chemistry with heart-felt sentiment saving GT from its predestined slot in the bargain bin.

Both Bloom and Madewke flesh out the cast with the believability needed to keep Turismo’s wheels turning, but how they play off Harbour keeps their performances memorable and the drama high, all working their nuts off to elevate a mediocre, cliché-ridden script.

Suspicious minds will count and expect the same story beats as a tale as old as time, yet the fact Gran Turismo is a true story gives viewers a slightly uneasy feeling that events are being forced into a template narrative, particularly when tragedy strikes in the pursuit of character motivation.

However with director Neil Blomkamp at the wheel, the tension is palpable and the action is crystal clear, stylistically colliding the protagonists view of the gaming and real worlds, creating a mental link with the audience as if it’s literally putting them in the drivers seat.

Gran Turismo is not the dull advert your Gran saw on the telly box and thought you’d like it because you own an Xbox. It’s a compelling account of events you never even knew unfolded in the racing world, and ultimately a fun distraction from the endless onslaught of superhero movies and Disney remakes, setting itself apart from video game movies by actually being real.

Gran Turismo available in select cinemas now

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