Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Movie Review: Gran Turismo

07:00 September 06, 2023
By: Fritz Esker

Director Neill Blomkamp became a critical darling with the inventive sci-fi film District 9. Elysium (a film I like) got mixed reviews, then 2015's Chappie flopped critically and commercially (I agree with the consensus on this one). It seems a bit odd that Blomkamp's comeback would be in a fairly conventional sports film, but it is with Gran Turismo. And the results are generally entertaining.

Archie Madekwe plays Jann, a hardcore racing gamer who learns about a contest involving his favorite racing simulator, Gran Turismo. Nissan has offered to take the best simulator racers and train them with the hopes of them becoming an actual race car driver. Helping them will be a gruff, skeptical, but decent coach (David Harbour).

Much of what follows should be familiar to fans of sports movies and racing movies. Jann must win over his father (Djimon Hounsou) who wants him to have more realistic goals. Jann also learns that racing in the real world can easily result in serious injuries and death and that he must overcome his own fears and doubt.

Ultimately, what won me over in the film was Harbour's performance. Much like with last year's Violent Night, Harbour takes something that on paper seems iffy and elevates it. He started his career playing a bunch of jerks and villains but once Stranger Things allowed him to play someone fundamentally decent, Harbour seems to have found his stride as an actor.

The second act lags a bit in the middle and the film stretches out to 134 minutes, but it's a worthwhile bet for moviegoers at a slow time in the moviegoing calendar.

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