Based on the true story of a team of underdogs – a struggling, working-class gamer, a failed former race car driver, and an idealistic motorsport exec – who risk it all to take on the most elite sport in the world.
THE GOOD STUFF
THE RACING!- One thing that cannot be denied about this film is how good the racing sequences are. There are times when the CGI crashes of these races look absolutely atrocious. But ultimately, what we end up with is a film that overachieves when it comes to these racing sequences, and thank goodness for that.
David Harbour- Back in the day, a friend and I went to go and see a movie called sleepless with Jamie Foxx. David Harbor was in that movie, and neither I nor my friend knew that to be the case. The movie was one of those thrillers with a bad guy that would be revealed at the end of the film, and when the movie started, my friend pointed out that that bad guy was going to be David Harbour because those were really the kind of roles that he was playing at the time. And he turned out to be right.
It’s amazing how far he’s come. Who exactly conveys badassery and authority while at the same time conveying tenderness and likability that very few other people have today? What David Harbour does in this film isn’t anything that you haven’t seen before, yet being the underdog that we root for is right in his wheelhouse, and I can’t think of too many other people that I’d rather have play something like this.
THE BAD STUFF
THE CHARACTER FOCUS- The downside to David Harbour’s wonderful performance is that he is very much a supporting character to the proceedings. Yes, I understand that this is supposed to be the story of Jann Mardenborough, and Archie Madekwe does just fine in holding it down.
But Harbor’s character has a more tragic backstory and shows a deeper emotional involvement in needing to win. This would have been so much better of a movie had it told the trainer’s story rather than the driver’s story.
THE UGLY STUFF
THE CHEESE- Quite literally, everything that this film attempts to do dramatically, aside from the racing aspect of things, crashes and burns (pardon the pun) outside of a very soulful performance from Djimon Hounsou. (who often outperforms the material that he’s cast to play) Every scene in this movie designed to humanize the main character is badly written and horribly paced.
On top of all that, we have these music cues that kick in whenever the movie wants you to feel an emotion. Long soap-opera-type music cues that turn things inadvertently comedic when I know that’s not the intent. Chat GPT could have written Orlando Bloom’s entire character, given the fact that his character is a physical manifestation of a Nissan ad.
Also, like many video-game-based movies, there is an attempt to incorporate video game images into live-action sequences, which never works out no matter how talented a filmmaker is behind the lens. Neill Blomkamp is one of the most underrated directors in the whole game. However, when these video game blurbs find their way into the middle of these great racing scenes, it feels very…..Uwe Boll-ish. And not only is that a bad thing, but that’s about the worst thing you can be when it comes to filmmaking.
Sometimes, when determining a bad movie, you must weigh the good and bad things and decide what appears more often. There is a lot of enjoyable stuff here, but the bad stuff is just really, really bad and cannot be unseen.
Had this been an 85-minute movie focusing on a coach-and-student relationship, this would be a very underrated summer release. But instead, this is a 130-minute film with more bad things than good.
GRAN TURISMO is in theaters now