It would be easy to be cynical about a Sony produced film about a Sony marketing campaign based around a Sony PlayStation game, but the Gran Turismo movie hits more than it misses.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium), it’s based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough (played by Archie Madekwe), a young British sim racer—who to the frustration of his parents doesn’t seem interested in a “real job”—defeats fellow Gran Turismo aces for a shot at real world racing success with Nissan.
Orlando Bloom plays Danny Moore, a hyperactive Nissan marketing exec behind a ‘GT Academy’ designed to turn a sim racer into a professional racing driver. After being turned down by a long list of racing instructors, he recruits Jack Salter (David Harbour, from Stranger Things), a failed driver tasked with preparing unlikely racers (“If you miss a line in the game, you reset. You miss it on the track, you could die.”).
Along the way, Jaan has to overcome challenges, starting with beating his academy competitors in the face of physical, mental and mechanical obstacles. From there he has to navigate hostility from the racing establishment and an unwelcome reception from his competitors as he tries to prove that he belongs on track with ‘real’ drivers.
There isn’t a lot of substance beneath the surface (Jaan’s romantic interest played by Maeve Courtier-Lilley exists for much of the film only in Jaan’s Instagram feed), but there doesn’t have to be. It’s simply a fun movie—fast-paced and entertaining, with video game stylised racing scenes that double as a homage to the Gran Turismo franchise.
Of course, like most racing films, you’ll need to suspend you belief at times (don’t show us an obvious aerial shot of the Hungaroring and tell us it’s Silverstone!), but if you can look past that you’ll be rewarded one of the more enjoyable motorsport movies in recent years.