Gran Turismo Movie Review: Archie Madekwe and David Harbour Fuel Sony’s Visceral Video Game Advertisement

Gran Turismo Stars Archie Madekwe and David Harbour and is Directed by Neill Blomkamp

Review: Gran Turismo may be an attempt to sell more copies of the video game it’s based on, but the filmmaking elements are still slick and riveting. David Harbour shines.

Gran Turismo review and summary David Harbour
Gran Turismo Movie Review

Gran Turismo tells the true story of Jann Mardenborough as he transitions from teenage gamer to a professional racecar driver once he qualifies through the titular simulator’s online events. The movie is directed by Neill Blomkamp and stars Archie Madekwe, David Harbour and Orlando Bloom.

Gran Turismo is a movie that rarely stops to breathe. It has a frenetic pacing that inherently comes with the subject matter, and it leans heavily into the action-packed sequences of teenagers training to handle the physical and mental toll of driving in an actual racecar. For the most part, it conveys this aspect well, utilizing slick editing and camerawork to feel like a modern sports movie shifted into high gear.

But this is arguably when Gran Turismo becomes its shallowest. Director Neill Blomkamp struggles to dial it back in the first half of the movie. It often makes the character development feel rushed and the stakes feel less earned. Audiences can get a decent idea of the plot from the trailer, and the movie races through them without using necessary time to dig deeper into the characters – opting instead for fierce and vigorous montage editing ripped straight from a sports movie

Take David Harbour’s Jack Salter, for example. Harbour’s role in Gran Turismo is to ostensibly weed out the gamers who aren’t cut out to drive a real racecar. He’s effective in the few scenes he has in the first hour, but they’re too few and far between to get any grasp on his character. It’s a shame, because the movie really opens up for him in the second hour, and it’s when Gran Turismo begins to click.

Once Jann (Archie Madekwe) completes his racecar training and signs on to be the figurehead for Gran Turismo’s racing division, the movie shifts for the better. It relies less on the story techniques and structure of, say, Top Gun: Maverick and Ender’s Game (specifically the former, which executes it in a significantly more efficient manner).

Blomkamp is also able to show off more of his directing style here, combining sharp skyline shots of various racing cities around the globe with an emotionality that comes with a few specific plot points. It’s at this point that the movie slows down, offering the ability to spend time with them outside of the racetrack. Gran Turismo changes on a dime towards the end of the second act – setting the stakes for one costly and dangerous final race at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

And even if it’s not all too successful with each burgeoning plot development, at least Gran Turismo is trying enough unique ideas out. For a video game-based endeavor, there’s a lot going on in it that feels earned and rewarding, and distinct from the code that inspired it. The movie is mostly able to shed the idea that it’s seemingly a feature-length advertisement for the racing simulator.

Reviews for Movies like Gran Turismo (2023)

The racing scenes feel dangerous and heart-pounding, while the character bonds feel more fleshed out by the third act. The performances are pretty terrific across the board, too. David Harbour becomes the main attraction as it goes on, mostly because he pairs a sense of restrained animosity with an acting style that I’m deeming “naturally cool.” Orlando Bloom serves as the third lead, dialing it up to 11 and giving this movie the juice it needs early on. Makes me beg the question: where has he been these last few years?

Beyond all of that, the racing sequences are where this movie is going to either win audiences over or push them away. They’re really, really intense, but I’m not sure they’re as successful as some of the best action movies in recent memory. Take the aforementioned Top Gun: Maverick, which choreographs their scenes so that you know exactly where each plane is at all times. Or Ambulance, which sears the layout of Los Angeles into your brain by the time the credits role.

Gran Turismo’s racing sequences sure are flashy, but there’s not much meat to them once you get past the frequent (and occasionally exhausting) cutaways to car parts operating in CGI. But it still manages to stay afloat due to its technical prowess. Some natural stunt work and practical effects, combined with an incredible sound design makes much of the movie feel like a shot of adrenaline rushing right through you.

So besides a few nitpicks in terms of pacing and cinematography, Gran Turismo passes with flying colors. In the wrong hands, this could’ve gone horribly wrong. With the intense and precise work of Neill Blomkamp and the rest of the cast and crew, Gran Turismo feels incredibly alive and off the ground from the jump.


Genre: Action, Drama

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Gran Turismo Movie Cast and Credits

Gran Turismo movie poster


Archie Madekwe as Jann Mardenborough

David Harbour as Jack Salter

Orlando Bloom as Danny Moore

Maeve Courtier-Lille as Audrey

Darren Barnet as Matty Davis

Geri Halliwell as Lesley

Djimon Hounsou as Steve

Daniel Puig as Coby


Director: Neill Blomkamp

Writer: Jason Hall, Zach Baylin

Cinematography: Jacques Jouffret

Editor: Colby Parker Jr.

Composer: Lorne Balfe

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