Onto the next release of the weekend and with not much content out this week, I decided to look towards a few of the theatrical releases that I would have otherwise waited for its OTT release. With that, I finished watching the new English film Gran Turismo which is now available in a theatre near you. While I haven’t played the game Gran Turismo, the film did promise to take the legacy of the game even further by introducing actual car racing as a part of its narrative(atleast from its trailer to begin with). I was just skeptical about that one little thing – will this sports drama be reduced to an underdog story like every other? That is often the burning question for almost all films of the sports genre. So then does Gran Turismo rise up to the occasion, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Based on true events, Gran Turismo follows the story of an underdog whose gaming skills help him win the Nissan competitions and also become an actual racedriver. The story here isn’t very novel and the writing keeps things simple which ultimately works in the film’s favour. It does evoke all the right kind of emotions despite it taking a few cliched turns that makes for a compelling viewing. The screenplay standing at a shade above 2 hours is pacy and packs in several situations which are interesting thus contributing to a nice little underdog story.
The drama does begin with the introduction of the protagonist who is a gaming arena genius, often playing out Gran Turismo, a car simumation racing game, with a lot of flair much to the dismay of his father who is a former footballer. Elsewhere, the marketing officer of Gran Turismo pitches a proposal to train a few gamers in order for them to attain professional driving licence while transforming them into actual racedrivers. It does seem like a match made in heaven for the protagonist but not without his share of ups and downs.
The proceedings are engrossing and engaging especially with the visual representation of the virtual simulation car races that add a layer of novelty to the drama. The portions involving the training that the protagonist has to undergo along with the right element of technicalities does contribute to a fascinating watch. The narrative is designed to be an exhilarating experience for the viewers as the drama makes a gradual shift from the virtual world to the actual car racing arena. While the writing remains superficial, never quite getting into the psyche of the individual, it is the pacy sport that takes center stage, delivering the much needed adrenaline rush. You can definitely draw parallels from a far superior film like Ford Vs Ferrari but the drama definitely does hold your attention when the actual races are showcased. The professional rivalry between the drivers is nicely showcased thus adding to the excitement in the drama.
The writers borrow parts of the narrative from exact true events(though the timelines might be a bit jumbled up) wherein one of the races ends up being a huge tragedy involving one of the spectators. While this incident acts as a motivational catalyst for the protagonist although I did feel that the drama just dips slightly at this juncture by manipulating the viewer with the emotions in play. The final act though does reignite the right kind of emotions in a finale race that definitely makes for an exciting watch. The final act is slightly cliched but still a lot of fun to witness. Overall, the screenplay is definitely well penned that scores despite its several cliches in the narrative.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and adequate although I did feel that they could have been a little more rousing to uplift the sentiments of the viewers. The music and the BGM add the right kind of vibe in the drama. The cinematography is perhaps the strongest element of the film, capturing some exhilarating visual of the race along with pulsating drone shots that contribute in keeping your interests intact despite a cliched sports template with respect to the writing. The editing is crisp and sharp as well. The VFX is incredibly well done with the parts of the simulations actually giving you a feel of the game. Director Neill Blomkamp does manage to impress by creating several situations that are interesting while scoring with the sport that has guaranteed an exhilarating ride over the years. The direction is pretty solid here.
The performances are good although none of the characters have depth to them. Josha Stradowsky as Nicholas is decent although not an ideal candidate to play the nemesis of the protagonist given that his character is superficially written. Orlando Bloom as Danny is pretty good and manages to impress with his screen presence. David Harbour as Jack is outstanding and adds a lot of measured intensity to his character. Archie Madekwe as Jann is phenomenal and quite the life of the film. His sincerity and passion towards the sport drive the narrative and it does prompt the viewers to root for his character right throughout. It was an incredibly good act by him.
Gran Turismo is a racy underdog that scores despite its cliches making it an exhilarating watch. Available in a theatre near you.