Gran Turismo: Underdog Story Plays Loose With Facts

Archie Madekwe and David Harbour star in Columbia Pictures GRAN TURISMO. Photo by Gordon Timpen. ©2023 CTMG. All Rights Reserved. Gran Turismo is a trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.

Gran Turismo might be telling a classic underdog story but it would help if the film didn’t play loosely in the fact department.

I have to be honest here in that I’m not a racing fan. I don’t watch NASCAR or any other racing organization. Even when NASCAR turned to Chicago for street racing, I avoided downtown like the plague. Nature had its own ideas in mind and was probably in the right for all its storms that weekend. In any event, Sony is opening the racing film limited before going wider at the end of August. This is presumably because of the strike but let’s face it, the SAG-AFTRA strike shows no signs of ending before the wide release on August 25. None of the actors are able to do any press or promote the film on social media. Despite the strike, the film is already playing overseas in the UK and elsewhere.

Gran Turismo tells the story of Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe), a simulation racer who wins a Nissan-sponsored contest to race at the GT Academy. Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom) is the executive who comes up with the contest while Jack Salter is Jann’s trainer. Fun fact: Mardenborough serves as his own stunt double. Where the film plays rather loose is making audiences believe that Jann is the first simulation racer to win the GT academy. The reality is that he was the third and youngest winner.

Again, it’s a classic underdog story. That’s not to say that they don’t play with drama here because they do. The film shows Nicholas Capa (Josha Stradowski) being a rival to Jann as Jann seeks his racing license. For what it’s worth, Wikipedia doesn’t even have a listing for Capa so I’m going to assume that this is where the film adds drama just to add it. Going off of Jann’s own Wiki listing, the film really plays loose with his biography. The Nürburgring Nordschleife crash is real and happened back in 2015. But again, in watching the film, you’d have believed it was happening very quickly after graduating from GT Academy.

Gran Turismo has clichéd thrills that racing fans will most likely enjoy but unless you’re familiar with Jann Mardenborough, it’s hard to where facts end and fiction begins in a film that sticks to formulaic storytelling at best. The two-hour-plus run time doesn’t do the film any favors either.

DIRECTOR: Neill Blomkamp
SCREENWRITERS: Jason Hall and Zach Baylin
CAST: David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Archie Madekwe, Darren Barnet, Geri Halliwell Horner, and Djimon Hounsou

Sony will release Gran Turismo in theaters on August 25, 2023. Grade: 2.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.