Based on the unbelievable, inspiring 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.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A scintillating, exhilarating watch, Gran Turismo will hold your attention from start to finish with its well-written script, deep characters, and detailed and immersive graphics… Gran Turismo promotes resilience. Every time Jann fails, Jack Salter (David Harbour), his trainer, pushes him to overcome the failure, get up, dust himself off, and move on to the next race.” See his full review below.
by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
A scintillating, exhilarating watch, Gran Turismo will hold your attention from start to finish with its well-written script, deep characters, and detailed and immersive graphics.
The film follows Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe), a teen from Cardiff, Wales, who’s obsessed with the video game Gran Turismo. Jann’s family doesn’t really understand his passion and worries about him, especially since he dropped out of university because of his dream to be a racecar driver. When Jann is selected as one of 10 kids worldwide to compete in Nissan’s GT Academy for a shot to be a professional racer, he must face tragedies, love, deceit, and so much more on the path to glory.
The cast shines in this film. Archie Madekwe as Jann Mardenborough captures the emotions of a teen with big dreams and the fire inside him to pursue them. He comes across as emotionless in the first few scenes but warms up into his character—by the climax, you’re sure to be rooting for Mardenborough.
My other favorite character is David Harbour as Jack Salter, a tough character to play. He’s a typical Hollywood coach, aggressive but a bit jaded because of his previous experience in racing. Over the course of the film, he warms up, which is where Harbour shines; the transformation from a brooding middle-aged has-been to a kind but fiery coach is spellbinding.
The screenplay by Jason Hall and Zach Baylin enhances the film massively, as do the cinematography and graphics, as well as the monumental score by Lorne Balfe and Andrew Kawczynski. In every racing scene, you feel like you’re in the car with Jann; my jaw was clenched throughout every hairpin turn. When the lights go green at the beginning of every race, the whole theater vibrates with the sound of the engine starting up.
Gran Turismo promotes resilience. Every time Jann fails, Jack Salter (David Harbour), his trainer, pushes him to overcome the failure, get up, dust himself off, and move on to the next race. Interestingly, Salter starts off in the film by not believing in Jann or any of the other kids in the GT Academy. Jann’s performance turns Salter into his most ardent supporter. Herein lies another message: proving your detractors wrong. Salter’s belief in always doing the right thing puts him at odds with Nissan marketing executive Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom), but is another great takeaway.
And of course, the core of the film is about achieving your dreams, no matter how unattainable they seem; when fate, fortune, and prowess align, you will find success. Parents should be aware of scenes with slightly foul language, one kissing scene, and one scene where kids drink and hang out in an industrial area and then have to run from the police.
I give Gran Turismo 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Gran Turismo releases in theaters on August 11, 2023.