‘Gran Turismo’ offers a stirring plot and exhilarating action scenes, making it a must-watch

October 16, 2023 — by Caitlin Stoiber
Courtesy of USA Today
Jann Mardenborough, an unlikely racing champion, at the 24 hours at Le Mans.

The action film based on a true story is destined to be a cult classic. 

It was a warm Friday evening when my older sister Elizabeth came home from the theater with her friends, her eyes shining with excitement. She couldn’t stop talking about how good this new movie was. The feeling of inspiration was so strong she ran a half marathon the following day. Naturally, I had to know how this one film motivated my sister this much, so I purchased tickets for the 9 p.m. showing the next day, headed down to the theater and soon became as enraptured by the story as my sister. 

“Gran Turismo” came to theaters on Aug. 25, earning a respectable 7.4/10 on IMDb; however, I believe that the movie deserves at least an 8/10 by virtue of its thrilling cinematography, inspiring plot and stirring message of hope and endurance. 

“Gran Turismo” boasts many big-name actors including Orlando Bloom, who plays charismatic Nissan executive marketer Danny Moore; David Harbour, who plays Jack Salter, a retired racing prodigy turned cynical car engineer; and “Never Have I Ever” star Darren Barnet as Matty Davis, an aspiring competitive racer. The star studded cast has great chemistry,  making the film all the more appealing. 

The film centers around Jann Mardenborough, a young man who is one of the top players in the racing simulation (sim) video game, Gran Turismo. At the same time, Nissan’s executive marketer Danny Moore is looking for ways to reignite consumers’ passion for driving. His idea: Take the best racers of Gran Turismo and have them race each other in actual cars. The winner will race for Nissan’s pro-racing team, against actual racers. 

Naturally, as the protagonist, Mardenborough wins this preliminary round after a grueling race between the other best sim racers in the world.

As an audience, we view Mardenborough’s journey from a champion video game player to an unlikely race car driver, experiencing alongside him the highs and lows of fighting for success.

Throughout the film, the juxtaposition of Mardenborough’s drive and the harsh realities of pro-racing, including an accidental death during one of his races, shows how difficult yet rewarding the road to success can be. 

One of my favorite parts is an inside joke between Mardenborough and Jack Salter, Mardenborough’s mentor and close friend. The joke is that champagne is a drink reserved only for the podium, a phrase Mardenborough and Salter continuously exchange throughout the film. 

When Mardenborough is given a bottle of champagne after placing third at the famed 24 Hours at Le Mans race, there’s a brief, but infinitely touching moment when he and Salter lock eyes. This moment represents everything they’ve been striving for — finding a place for sim racers in the real world of racing — and the pride radiating from Salter and the exuberance from Mardenborough definitely makes this one of my top scenes.   

The phenomenal action scenes in this movie also can’t be ignored. Director Neill Blomkamp’s use of multiple frames per second during high action scenes creates an electric atmosphere packed with anticipation and suspense. 

Gran Turismo is a thrilling film that draws viewers in through its elegant duality of fast-paced montages and short bursts of high action film to emotional climaxes. For those who are interested in an intoxicating movie with thrilling races and quick-witted dialogue that’ll leave you wanting to join GT racing, “Gran Turismo” is most definitely the film for you. 

Tags: movie, racing
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