Anytime you can take an existing studio I.P, something that another may consider a point-and-shoot gig, and steer it towards that final, flapping flag with fervor and ingenuity, and having taken some unique, surprising turns along the way, you’ve already won the crowd over. Neil Blomkamp’s Gran Turismo isn’t just going to get those in the bleachers cheering, it’s certain to see some podium action, too.
Though sharing a name with a popular Playstation game, Gran Turismo is set in the real world where the real-life account of a Cardiff, UK teenager named Jan Mardenborough (played here by Archie Madekwe) finds himself competing against other Gran Turismo gamers to win the GT Academy, where winners can snag the chance to drive professionally for Nissan.
Ad exec Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom) is the brainchild behind the idea – one which begins as merely a sales tactic to help sponsors PlayStation and Nissan but, with the help of trainer Jack Slater (David Harbour), results in introducing the world to one of the finest young racers the sport has ever seen.
Despite taking some liberties with the real-life story, and inescapably treading trekking familiar territory at the best of times, Blomkamp still gives us one of the best brand-to-blockbuster transfers to date. The District 9 filmmaker takes what’s essentially an effortless “make a movie out of this video game” assignment and instead, and rather admirably, makes the best movie he possibly can – one with award-worthy performances, some of the best special and visual effects this side of Lightstorm’s toy department, and an inspiring, all-engrossing story that’ll have the same crowd who applauded and cheered for Maverick and Rocky more than thankful they took a punt on this mostly starl-ess racing movie.
Featuring impeccable performances from lead Madekwe, David Harbour, and DJimon Hounsou as Mardenborough’s protective pop (whose final major scene will undoubtedly leave a few with wet cheeks), traditionally great; imaginative effects and incredible driving sequences, a wholesome and inspiring screenplay by Jason Hall and Zach Baylin, and Blomkamp – who has been hit and miss at the best times – at the top of his game, Gran Turismo is one of the best films of the year.