With David Harbour, Orlando Bloom and Archie Madekwe taking on the roles of Jack Salter, Danny Moore and Jann Mardenborough respectively, the movie, on paper, looks pretty good. However, much to my disappointment, it did not deliver a satisfying story with nail-biting racing sequences that the countless trailers and promotional materials had promised. Instead, the movie was filled with choppy editing, horrible pacing and questionable dialogue.
The Gran Turismo video game franchise is regarded as one of the most accurate racing sims in the world. A group of ambitious marketing agents wanted to test the hypothesis of whether a group of the best Gran Turismo players could translate their skills from the game into the real world. The film, Gran Turismo, follows the inspiring and true tale of Jann Mardenborough and the hardships he had to face to make a name for himself as a real driver.
The real Mardenborough’s tale has the perfect story beats to be adapted into a movie. With David Harbour, Orlando Bloom and Archie Madekwe taking on the roles of Jack Salter, Danny Moore and Jann Mardenborough respectively, the movie, on paper, looks pretty good. However, much to my disappointment, it did not deliver a satisfying story with nail-biting racing sequences that the countless trailers and promotional materials had promised. Instead, the movie was filled with choppy editing, horrible pacing and questionable dialogue.
The editing was my biggest gripe with the film. I felt that, had the editing been better, it would have solved many of the problems the movie faced.
But what is film editing? It essentially boils down to how a movie is presented, by mixing and matching scenes in a cohesive order to deliver the narrative experience in an enjoyable and engaging way. Good editing is virtually unnoticeable, because your focus wouldn’t be on the editing but on the actual movie itself. But when the movie loses your attention, chances are, it was because of bad editing. Unfortunately, Gran Turismo, despite my hopes for it, kept losing me.
In a lot of racing sequences, the movie did not allow for the camera to sit in the action and let the audience soak in what was really happening. Instead, the movie constantly cuts from: racing, to a shot of the audience, to a drone shot, into a cockpit shot, into a third-person shot, to David Harbour, then back to Archie Madekwe, then, suddenly, the race is over. This made the movie feel like a series of montages rather than a cohesive narrative. Additionally, the non-racing scenes were shot exactly like a commercial, and the first half of the movie felt just like a commercial. The sterile lighting, uninspired camera shots, and stiff dialogue all contributed to that feeling.
None of the storylines were given enough time to be fleshed out and, consequently, all the emotional moments of the film felt incredibly out of place. The movie expected audiences to care about these moments and characters anyways by lingering on these scenes for way too long. The inconsistency of the writing is most prevalent in Orlando Bloom’s character, whose character motivations kept changing for absolutely no reason other than the fact that the narrative calls for it.
As I briefly mentioned before, the dialogue in this movie is horrendous. The stiff delivery of gamer-lingo and slang is just, with a lack of a better word, cringe. The sequences where David Harbour’s character (who is a driving instructor), was acting like a drill sergeant and name-calling the players by calling them worthless, no-good gamers who will amount to nothing was so odd. I get that they were trying to hammer home the prejudice these players had to face and the fact that it isn’t a game anymore, but the movie did it in such a “in your face” way that the meaning was completely lost.
Underneath all of my criticisms, I do think the movie had the potential to be the next Ford v. Ferrari and, to its credit, the movie was still enjoyable. But the potential of what this film could have been frustrates me because most of the problems that plagued the movie could have been fixed in post-production. With Sony trying to dive into the film market with their PlayStation exclusive games, I hope that the quality of their releases will continue to be higher. Time and time again, we’ve seen that video games have the potential to be properly adapted onto the screen. Gran Turismo, unfortunately, just slightly missed the mark.
You can catch Gran Turismo in cinemas now