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Review: The Gran Turismo Movie is an Exhilarating Videogame Adaptation

Gran Turismo Movie 1

Like most, we scoffed when it was announced that the seminal PlayStation racing game series Gran Turismo was getting a film adaptation. It just seemed like the most unlikely of games to make a jump to the big screen. But now it’s here, and we’ll admit that it was a pretty good idea. Whether you’re a fan of the game or not, the Gran Turismo movie is likely to have you gripped for its 2 hour 15 minutes running time.

Rather than focus on the game itself, the Gran Turismo movie finds inspiration from a true story surrounding GT Academy. For those not in the know, GT Academy was a program where some of the best Gran Turismo drivers were selected to see if they had what it takes to enter the world of motorsports for real. This movie puts Jann Mardenborough front and centre, who was actually the third person to win GT Academy. But forget about that; here, it’s presented as if there was only one GT Academy, and he’s the winner. It’s perhaps because of his dramatic rise to stardom and his achievements.

Portrayed by Archie Madekwe in the film, the real Jann Mardenborough actually stands in as his stunt double. In any case, Archie does a good job of playing the young, hopeful gamer-meets-racing superstar, and there’s real growth in his character by the time you reach the end of the film. It’s perhaps David Harbour that steals the show here, though. As the fictional Jack Salter, the person in charge of training the GT Academy finalists, he’s initially cynical of the abilities of the “gamers” presented to him, coming off as cold and abrasive. But there’s depth to his character. Orlando Bloom impresses as the marketing guy who dreams everything up, as well.

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The drama in these characters’ personal lives is enough to get you invested in the film’s story – there’s the typical rags-to-riches arc for Jann, while Jack gets to fulfil his dream, somewhat, via Jann’s success. There are ups and downs, moments of shock and horror, and even time for a bit of romance. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride. And of course, being all about racing, there’s plenty of on-track action, too. The many racing sequences in the film are wonderfully shot, at times mimicking the presentation of the games to drill home that this is Gran Turismo.

Related: Read our review of Gran Turismo 7

Though predictable throughout, Gran Turismo stands up as one of the best movies based on a videogame to date. It’s fair to say, though, that it doesn’t try to translate the actual game to the big screen – rather, this is the story of a determined young gamer who dared to dream. So, whether you’re into motorsports, or films that will simply make you feel a range of emotions, Gran Turismo is well worth giving a watch. And if you are a Gran Turismo fan? Well, just enjoy it even more.

Gran Turismo (2023) Movie Review – GameSpew’s Score

Gran Turismo is showing now in cinemas across various territories including the UK. It starts 25th August in the US. 

Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!