Based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough, gamer turned pro driver, Gran Turismo is one of the cooler movies released that incorporates both professional racing and the video game world. Combining video game aspects with a real story and getting a good result isn’t easy but the film Gran Turismo delivered.
The movie opens with marketing executive Danny Moore (played by Orlando Bloom) pitching to Nissan’s motorsport division the idea of “Gran Truism Academy” to turn Gran Turismo video game players into real race car drivers. Nissan agrees and Moore recruits the help of mechanic and former racer Jack Saulter (played by David Arbour) who has very little faith in the project to bring GT Academy to life. When avid Gran Turismo player, UK teen Jann Mardenborough (played by Archie Madekwe) is invited to compete for a spot in GT academy, the story begins. Mardenborough and other gaming finalists attend GT Academy and transform from a gamer with racing dreams to true race car drivers. Mardenborough ends up winning the top spot at GT Academy to finally transition into becoming a professional race car driver. As he enters the professional racing world he deals with all that comes with being the underdog. The movie takes us through the events that established Jann Mardenborough in the professional world. It explores Jann’s internal drive, his relationship with his family, his father especially, and his bond with mechanic turned mentor Jack Saulter.
The movie did a great job of keeping to the plot while also making viewers feel like they are in a video game behind the wheel and giving them the thrill that comes with racing. It was a great inspirational story with touching moments that weren’t too sappy. Of course like with all films based on true events there is some controversy, the inclusion of Mardenborough’s accident at the Nürburgring track that claimed the life of a spectator was depicted in the movie earlier in his career than it actually was. However, Gran Turismo is a film and not a documentary. I think what’s really interesting is this seems to be the first time a lot of people have heard of Jann Mardenborough’s story or even GT Academy yet there are not many Black professional race car drivers in the world and his career started in 2011. We learn at the end that the real Jann even played his own stunt double in the film and when comparing actors to the individuals they played, we see casting was definitely done well. While not necessarily Oscar-worthy, Gran Turismo is finally something in theaters simply entertaining and positive I’d definitely recommend watching and learning about this incredible story.
By McKenna Fuller