Gran Turismo Movie Review: A Heart-Pounding Adrenaline Rush

Gran Turismo shifts into high gear from ready-set-go. This biographical action sports drama stars Archie Madekwe as Jann Mardenborough, a young man who is one of the best players in the world at Gran Turismo, a racing simulation video game. Nissan executive Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom) holds a contest to give the best player in the world a chance to become a professional race car driver. With the help of trainer Jack Salter (David Harbour), Jann goes from zero to hero in a riveting rags-to-riches retelling of a real-life story that will blow you away.

The summer has been filled with discussion over big movies like Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. However, Gran Turismo has snuck up on us as the biggest surprise of the summer. This is the most unexpected, must-see movie of the year from director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium). He has created the heart-pounding crowd-pleaser of the year with this classic underdog story that knocks it out of the park. Blomkamp’s style, with how he visualizes the game and where Jann is in the races, allows the scenes to burst with excitement.

A fun fact about this movie is that Joseph Kosinski was the original director. This iteration never moved forward, but he was ultimately able to scratch the itch for a thrilling vehicular movie with last year’s electrifying Top Gun: Maverick. Gran Turismo is the beautiful lovechild of Top Gun: Maverick and some of your favorite racecar movies, like Rush and Ford v. Ferrari. It will have you gripping your palms with excitement as you watch this absurd true story of a kid who played a video game at home and suddenly got the chance of a lifetime.

The heart of Gran Turismo is a kid chasing his dream. No matter how small that pie in the sky is, he’s reaching for the heavens. He has a challenging relationship with his father, Steve (Djimon Hounsou), and he doesn’t feel like he gets support from him. What drives him forward through the whole movie is wanting to prove his father wrong and show him what he can do. It’s a fantastic emotional subplot that gets a wonderful payoff. Hounsou has always been a superb actor who typically gets bit parts in large Hollywood blockbusters. Although he doesn’t have a lot of screen time in this movie, he gets to shine in every scene he is in.

Once Jann is off to the races, Gran Turismo does an excellent job of building the physical and emotional stakes at the same time. If you mess up while playing the game, you can start over. If you mess up in real life, people can die. This is the harrowing truth of racing, and this movie does not shy away from it. There’s no room for error, and when you’re on the track, you have to make split-second decisions. If you falter for even a second, it’s life or death. These are the stakes our protagonist is put in, and it’s thrilling to watch. With each race, his goal is clear, and it’s always evident how every race progresses the story.

Despite being one of the best Gran Turismo players in the world, Jann is out of his element with all of these experienced racers. He is going up against professionals who have been on these tracks for far longer than he has. This is a shining testament to the timelessness of the underdog story. Seeing Jann start at the bottom and fight his way up to the top is inspiring, especially when each race offers white-knuckled action sequences that will give you one hell of an adrenaline rush.

Madekwe is an up-and-coming actor who brings his A-game to the character, portraying him with sympathy and lovable nuance. Harbour is excellent in all his movies, and he gets a chance to shine in a character that has more to him than what meets the eye. Maeve Courtier-Lilley portrays Audrey in a romantic subplot where her character is not fully realized. However, the warmth she brings to her character is exactly what this movie needed to go over the edge as not only one of the best movies of the year but one of the finest movies of the decade. With the racing scenes directed to perfection and an airtight script from Jason Hall and Zach Baylin, Gran Turismo is living proof that a video game movie can be thrilling, emotional, and a spectacular time at the movies.

SCORE: 9/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 9 equates to “Excellent.” Entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its type. The gold standard that every creator aims to reach.

Disclosure: ComingSoon attended a press screening for our Gran Turismo review.