Like Barbie, Gran Turismo is not – entirely – the film that one might imagine at the outset. Although its title is taken from the popular PlayStation video game series and the starting point of the plot is in this world, the action moves quickly on the asphalt. And that’s good !
Based on a true story, the screenplay by Jason Hall (American Sniper) and Zach Baylin (Creed III) chronicles the unlikely journey of Briton Jann Mardenborough from being one of the world’s best Gran Turismo players to that of a professional racing driver. He is embodied by Archie Madekwe (Midsommar, the See series), who conveys with conviction the pursuit of a dream and the harsh reality when the time comes to realize it.
Without being less convincing, the relationship between Jann and her family is somewhat conventional. After a long career as a footballer, Steve Mardenborough (Djimon Hounsou) can hardly bear to see his eldest son riveted to his console and aspire to a life he considers impossible. Unsurprisingly, he will express his pride to his son just before the ultimate test. One wonders where this love was hiding before this beautiful moment. At least her mother (Geri Halliwell-Horner) is more generous on the matter during her brief appearances.
Family, friends and girlfriend quickly find themselves in the rear view mirror, as Gran Turismo takes off with a bang. Jann wins a virtual race that allows her to participate in GT Academy, a reality show in which young video game aces compete in the hope of securing a place on the starting line of a real race. Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom, Tasteless), from the marketing department at Nissan, is the source of this crazy idea to bring lounge racers to the track.
To realize his ambitious project, he calls on Jack Salter, a former pilot now grumpy and extinct. David Harbor (Black Widow, Stranger Things) excels as a man whose skepticism and bitterness are gradually replaced by renewed passion as he rubs shoulders with the determination and potential of young Jann. We adopt his point of view which evolves with ours and which grants us the “right” to marvel in the world of motorsport. This is what Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Demonic) does best, in addition to the most spectacular races.
The frantic pace of the beginning slows down in the middle of the course in order to take the time to show Jann’s new life, his difficulties behind the wheel, and to build the bond between Jack and him. The whole is successful, but stretches and repeats itself.
The turning point occurs when Jann is the victim of a serious accident in Germany, which kills a spectator. His portrayal in the film is also controversial, as Jack draws a parallel with a similar experience in order to restore his foal’s confidence. However, the real accident took place when Jann had been a professional pilot for a few years, and not at the start of his career.
Gran Turismo brings us to the finish line with the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The family, girlfriend and friends of GT Academy are back for this delightful final act. You feel the weight of the ordeal, the tension in the pits, the love of loved ones, the speed of the cars, the precision of the maneuvers and, above all, the adrenaline that such a challenge provides.
Jacques Jouffret’s cinematography (the first three The Purge) is impeccable, as is the sound design and editing. We haven’t seen such an exciting race on the big screen in a long time. We leave the room pumped up with an irrepressible desire to hit the road listening to Black Sabbath… or Kenny G.