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The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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February 20, 2024

Gran Turismo: The surprise of the summer movie season

While+%E2%80%9CGran+Turismo%E2%80%9D+seems+like+another+lackluster+racing+movie%2C+director+Neill+Blomkamp%E2%80%99s+latest+film+instead+shines+as+the+most+welcome+surprise+of+the+summer+cinema+season.+%0A
@granturismo
While “Gran Turismo” seems like another lackluster racing movie, director Neill Blomkamp’s latest film instead shines as the most welcome surprise of the summer cinema season.

Engines kick into high gear, pistons compress and cockpits turn into ovens — familiar but welcome sights for a film about the racetrack. 

While “Gran Turismo” seems like another lackluster racing movie, director Neill Blomkamp’s latest film instead shines as the most welcome surprise of the summer cinema season. 

“Gran Turismo” tells the mostly true story of Jann Mardenborough, a dedicated fan of the titular PlayStation racing game who receives a once-in-a-lifetime chance at professional race car driving. The film pairs the video game’s high-energy racing action with an exciting underdog sports story, providing audiences with a consistently engaging ride. While “Gran Turismo” juggles too many characters, the energetic production from director Neill Blomkamp and his team creates one of the most thrilling theater experiences of the year. 

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Blomkamp’s phenomenal control of the camera is one of the film’s greatest aspects. Blomkamp is known for creating dystopian science fiction films like “District 9” and “Elysium.” With “Gran Turismo,” he creates yet another high-octane blockbuster. Blomkamp’s racing action scenes stay gritty and intense for the entire runtime, incorporating his dynamic and engaging style showcased in past projects. Additionally, Blomkamp’s projections of video game aesthetics onto the actual track complement the practical effects of the rip-roaring engines and wheels screaming across the road. 

Archie Madekwe’s performance as Jann syncs perfectly with his character’s narrative progression. His acting starts reserved, capturing the feeling of an everyman given a life-changing opportunity,  quickly becoming impassioned as Jann gains more confidence, both on and off the racetrack.

Seasoned co-stars David Harbour and Orlando Bloom also provide lively performances alongside Madekwe. While Harbour’s Jack Salter, a grizzled racing coach, and Bloom’s Danny Moore, the creator of the Gran Turismo Academy, were created for this true-story adaptation, both revel in their screen time. With such strong charisma from the supporting cast, the movie has big laughs that propel the pacing forward.

Moreover, Harbour’s chemistry with Madekwe feels genuine. Salter is cynical toward the gamers in the racing academy, but Jann’s drive to improve allows the two to form an unexpected bond. The actors handle their scenes with grace, capturing poignant moments of triumph and reflection. 

That is not to say “Gran Turismo” is anywhere near perfect, as the film struggles to balance Jann’s other relationships. Whether it’s the undercooked romance or the unnecessary evil rival, these familiar sports cliches lack screen time and contribute little to the overall narrative. In particular, Jann’s relationship with his father, played by Djimon Hounsou, cannot develop fully. His father fears that Jann’s dreams of being a race car driver are unreachable, but this conflict is explored only in the first act. Throughout the film, Hounsou periodically shows up, but his scenes don’t feel as weighty as they should. The underdeveloped emotions only work because of Hounsou’s incredible performance which undeniably deserved more screen time.

“Gran Turismo” is held back by a crowded script that loses focus on the many characters surrounding Jann. However, when it narrows in on Blomkamp’s electrifying race sequences and the coach-player mentorship between Harbour and Madekwe, the film is an absolute blast, filled with fist-pumping moments that audiences are sure to enjoy.

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About the Contributor
Rylan Ammerman, Opinion Writer
Grade 12 Why did you join The B&W? To share my opinions and passions with the community. What is your favorite song? You Make My Dreams (Daryl Hall and John Oates)

Comments (2)

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  • H

    HenrySep 18, 2023 at 10:44 am

    from gamer to racer

    Reply
  • K

    Katelyn LeonardSep 18, 2023 at 10:43 am

    Okay rylan

    Reply