Gran Turismo Movie Full Review: Is It Actually Good?

Gran Turismo Film Complete Assessment: Is It In reality Just right?

You can’t have missed the announcement that Sony Pictures was creating a feature film based on the Gran Turismo series; GTPlanet has been reporting on it since the announcement was initially made back in 2013.

After ten years, it is now finally materializing. Gran Turismo will be shown on the big screen later this month, even though it has been delayed a few weeks from its planned release date.

It’s a dramatized rendition of Jann Mardenborough’s narrative, as the tagline “Based On A True Story” suggests. Jann achieved success in motorsport at some of the highest levels after winning GT Academy in 2011. One of the most captivating stories in the Gran Turismo series, it is unquestionably worthwhile to be told in this manner.

Despite the fact that the movie won’t be generally accessible until later this month, we were able to see it at a small early public screening.

Table of Contents

Before We Get Started…

Before we get to the review, I want to quickly mention two things.

For those of you who might not know me, I started all the way back in 2001. I am, of course, very close to the Gran Turismo series and I have known almost everyone portrayed in this movie personally for many years. However, neither I nor GTPlanet was involved in its production.

Additionally, this review — and video above — is divided into two parts. The first part will not have any spoilers for the movie itself, while the second half will.

Due to the more specific nature of the negative things I do have to say, these will mostly be in the spoiler section. There will be a clear warning before the spoiler section begins, so you can keep reading as far as you feel comfortable.

Overall Impressions

To put it simply, this is a great movie. It’s highly entertaining, and it’s going to be fun for anyone to watch, even if they are not into cars, or racing, or don’t know anything about Gran Turismo.

It’s clear that no expense was spared in achieving a very high production value and it shows. The production, cinematography, sound, and music is all top-notch and extremely well done.


Without a question, this is the scene in the film that stands out the most. Over the past few years, there have been a number of excellent movies on modern racing, but I believe Gran Turismo raises the bar.

The FPV drone shots truly up the ante and give us some viewpoints that we have never before seen.

The decision by the director Neill Blomkamp to stick with actual effects and depict automobiles traveling at real speeds in this film has paid off handsomely, as he has stated in numerous interviews. It appears magnificent.

Thankfully, the sound design meets the same high standards, with the cars actually emitting the appropriate noises.


I was a little worried about the performance being a little “cheesy” when I first watched the trailer, but I was pleasantly surprised once the film started.

Although David Harbour’s portrayal of Jack Salter suffers from some poor writing in the early scenes of the movie, he does an excellent job overall. As the film goes on, his character has a crucial role in the plot and really finds his voice. He practically steals the show by the time it’s through.

Reviewing Archie Madekwe’s portrayal of Jann Mardenborough, the main character, seems a little odd. I can’t help but compare Archie to Jann because I know him personally. Jann is a delight to be around since he is composed, self-assured, yet modest at the same time. Archie does a good job of pulling this off, but he’s not quite as “likable” or approachable as Jann is in real life.

Orlando Bloom’s Danny Moore was a little too bubbly for my taste, but like David Harbour, Bloom seemed to grow more at ease with the job as the story and Moore’s character developed.

Creative Liberties

Yes, I can confirm they did take a number of “creative liberties” and shortcuts to make this a more condensed and thrilling story that fits into the movie’s two-hour running time as someone who is quite familiar with the genuine story being recounted in this film.

There will undoubtedly be many instances where you will think to yourself, “That definitely didn’t happen,” if you are a graduate of the GT Academy, are interested in motorsports, or have closely followed Jann’s tale. Nicholas Capa, the main antagonist, is an abhorrently dishonest driver who, if he drove like this in real life, would likely be barred from nearly all motorsports. However, you will appreciate it much more if you can manage to shut off that analytical part of your brain for a few hours and approach it with an open mind.

This is a slam dunk for the great majority of folks who don’t care about all those specifics and just want to watch a decent movie.

Spoiler Alert!

Of course we’re not the vast majority of people, and as someone who has been associated with the games, community, GT Academy, and most of the people depicted for more than two decades, many of the things I didn’t like about the movie are connected to that.

*** Minor spoilers are, from this point on, going to be unavoidable. If you don’t want to see that, stop reading, bookmark this page, and come back to it later. ***

Easter Eggs

I might not have noticed many of them during my initial viewing, but I was really hoping for a lot more “Easter Egg” surprises in this film. There are over 25 years of Gran Turismo legend that this movie could have delved into, but it just… doesn’t. Of course, this is just me speaking as a “super fan” and it won’t have an influence on most people.

There are literally 100 million Gran Turismo enthusiasts who would have loved to see significant vehicles from previous GT games or allusions to well-known original tracks.

Just a few members of the real-world “Gran Turismo family”

Also included in what insiders refer to as the “Gran Turismo family” are hundreds of real people, such as other GT Academy alums, participants in the Gran Turismo esports, or well-known Polyphony Digital employees. For instance, Translator-san or Tom Brooks’ voice from the race commentary would have been amusing to spot in the background.

However, there are a few Easter Eggs. For instance, Jann is briefly seen watching a video by Super GT, a YouTuber and sporadic GT World Series co-presenter, and my favorite surprise is a cameo appearance by Kazunori Yamauchi, the real Gran Turismo founder. I won’t give you any spoilers; I’ll let you discover that one for yourself, but when I saw it, I couldn’t help but laugh aloud.

Kazunori Yamauchi (left) and Takehiro Hira (right)

Kazunori Yamauchi

Speaking of Kazunori Yamauchi, I was somewhat aback and a little let down by how his part was incorporated into the movie. Yamauchi-san, who is portrayed by actor Takehiro Hira, makes his first appearance in the movie when the Polyphony Digital crew tests and scans automobiles for the game.

It seems to imply that we will learn more about how their work on the game helped Jann transition from the virtual world to reality, but the film never really follows through on this. At several points in the film, Yamauchi’s character briefly and awkwardly makes an appearance, but it feels forced.

That’s unfortunate because, in my experience, Yamauchi takes great delight in Jann’s tale and the success of GT Academy, which is also one of Gran Turismo’s pinnacle achievements. Though this film is obviously not intended to be about Yamauchi, I believe that it might have done a better job of highlighting how Jann’s success contributed to the legitimacy of Yamauchi’s life’s work.

Lucas Ordonez, Jann Mardenborough, and Michael Krumm in 2013

Lucas Ordonez

The Gran Turismo film is aggressively promoted and presented as a “true story”—which, in essence, it is! — But it can’t be said that Jann came up with the full tale.

The process is presented in the film as being fairly straightforward: Jann wins, GT Academy is created, and he forges a new route in the racing industry. While he undoubtedly contributed to the story and was arguably the biggest success, it leaves out a crucial fact: he wasn’t the first to carry out this action.

Jann was following in the footsteps of Lucas Ordonez, the first GT Academy winner, who took first place in the competition’s inaugural year in 2008. Lucas was very successful both on and off the track, and it was the path he chose that demonstrated the viability of the GT Academy program.

But Jann is portrayed in the movie as the first GT Academy victor. It emphasizes that he must place first at Le Mans in order for GT Academy to be successful, although Lucas finished first at Le Mans in 2011, before Jann set foot in the GT Academy Race Camp. In fact, in a car he shared with Lucas (and Michael Krumm) in 2013, Jann finished third at Le Mans for the only time.

Sadly, the film says absolutely nothing about Lucas or his achievements. Rather, it gives Jann a lot of the credit for his success as a trailblazer, which doesn’t seem fair or realistic to either party.

To be clear, Jann is not at blame for anything. I consider him a friend, and I think his story ought to be told because he is so gifted. I simply wished Lucas and some of the other GT Academy champions who contributed to the program’s success had received more credit in the film. Both Jann and Lucas are not deserving of this embarrassing footnote on their respective films. Really unfortunate.


Despite my criticisms, I thought the movie was pretty good and did a great job of portraying a little-known narrative. Sim-racing is significantly legitimized and popularized by having this tale presented as a well-made and engaging film. It’s very astounding that this movie even exists, and to be completely honest, I’m glad it was done so well. Visit it!

What Do You Think?

What did you think of the movie, if any, among those who are watching? Post your opinions in the comments or, even better, visit the GTPlanet Forums where our community will be delving deeply into every aspect of the movie.

Keep checking back because we’ll be covering a lot more in the coming weeks. To make sure you don’t miss anything, click the subscribe button.

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