From Gamer to Elite Motor Racer: ‘Gran Turismo’ Brings True Story to Life - Hope 103.2

From Gamer to Elite Motor Racer: ‘Gran Turismo’ Brings True Story to Life

This true-to-life action film attempts to keep the pedal to the floor, but fails to keep the motor running, writes film critic Russ Matthews.

By Russell MatthewsWednesday 30 Aug 2023MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Jann Mardenborough made history, although many outside the race car and gaming communities may have never heard of this young gamer.

Mardenborough is known for winning a major international competition for playing PlayStation’s Gran Turismo and, eventually, having a prolific worldwide racing career.

District 9 director Neill Blomkamp does all he can to capture this young driver’s unbelievable and unprecedented story by speeding into cinemas.

Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) had been an avid gamer and champion at the simulation game, Gran Turismo.

Growing up in Cardiff, Wales, he dreamt of life beyond his community. Specifically, to get out from under the pressure of his father, Steve (Djimon Hounsou), who had been a professional footballer – and wants more for his son.

One day, Jann is invited to be part of a videogame competition sponsored by PlayStation and Nissan.

The winner will go to the GT Academy to become a real professional race car driver.

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Despite winning the competition, the teenager will need to prove he has what it takes to fulfil this dream of racing – by making it through the training of driving legend, Jack Salter (David Harbour).

All of this sounds so far-fetched, it makes the viewing process of the Gran Turismo movie challenging to believe.

That is until the final credits which show that the majority of events and the people on screen were real.

Knowing this helps to reframe Gran Turismo as a fascinating study of unconventional means of entry into a highly competitive sport, from the gaming chair to the car seat.

Each obstacle Jann faces brings a different challenge to him achieving his dreams.

Yet, through the highs and lows of his story, the young driver proves why this racing tale was considered for the big screen.

Madekwe does enough to get things across the line. At the same time, Harbour is the driving force behind this driver’s journey.

The pair provides the human side that must compete with the excitement of the roaring engines and seeing how things are done on the race car circuit.

What is surprising about a film that relies on people’s hearts racing as they watch the drama speed past them is how this story becomes quite prosaic.

The screenplay and action attempt to keep the pedal to the floor, but this true-to-life tale fails to keep the motor running.

The blame could be the need to remain faithful to the original storyline or heavy reliance on the cars to keep the audience’s attention.

Regardless of this apparent problem, Gran Turismo‘s overall feel has all the right components, but can’t get the engine running hot enough.

While it has the potential of a strong contender, only the gaming fans will appreciate Gran Turismo enough to get this film out from the middle of the pack to take the checkered flag in cinemas.

Reel Dialogue: Who is investing in your life?

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17)

One element that stands out from Gran Turismo is the mentoring relationship between the two lead characters.

As the old, jaded racer Jack directs Jann’s path for his development and making it in the brutal world of auto racing, a special bond is developed.

Even though their relationship is not perfect, it does lead to some of the most endearing elements of Gran Turismo.

“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

Mentorship and training are seen throughout the Bible.

Jesus had his disciples, but a fascinating study can be found in the coaching relationship between Paul and Timothy.

The apostle wrote some of the most personal letters to his trainee.

These men set a precedent for the value of an older individual investing in the life of someone younger.

Not unlike the relationship between the men in Gran Turismo, the allegiance between Paul and Timothy still benefits trainees today.

And it does lead to the very thing that genuinely helps humankind.

If you want to discuss mentorship and God, contact us at Third Space.

We would love to chat about this and more.


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie publicity

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.