Video game adaptations for the cinema are sometimes hilarious, and motorsport films rather rare.
Here, Neil Blomkamp (who made a name for himself with District 9) signs an adaptation of the famous game Gran Turismo. For those who don’t know, the Gran Turismo series has revolutionized the game of motorsport, and this from the first opus released in 1997 (already!) on the Playstation. In addition to fully exploiting the capabilities of the console at the time, this game pushed the limits of realism. We had never seen at the time such a detailed reproduction of the cars and such a good feeling of their behavior, with also a lot of background work on the soundtrack. Since then, Gran Turismo has evolved and is in its 7th episode, and it is of course one of the reference titles in simracing, which has now taken on a whole new dimension.
Obviously, the film is a tribute to the saga, and this from the start with the highlighting of its founder Kazunori Yamauchi, plans showing the game designer teams modeling the cars and of course drone plans of different circuits which remind us of the cutscenes of the game. Moreover, the director has fun, racing scenes, many of which are in live action, inserting screen overlays or shots, such as the rear view, which obviously remind the simulator.
Based on Nissan GT Academy experience
On this question of real/virtual porosity, the film puts its feet in it then the scenario is based on real facts, namely the establishment by Nissan (nice ad for the brand by the way) of the GT Academy, a program of selection which was established in the 2010s and which offered to select the best simracers in order to be trained and prepared with a view to obtaining the sesame, that is to say an official Nismo steering wheel to embark on a real career professional in a real racing stable. The story is basically based on the real career of Jann Madenborough, who was selected after his victory in the GT Academy in 2011 and started in 2012 in European GT racing. Coming from a working-class background, the young man has to face the hostility and incomprehension of his parents, then the multiple challenges that await him. The film is also based on real moments in his career, such as his podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (in LMP2) and also his terrible accident at the Nürburgring, where he flew off the famous Flugplatz bend, involuntarily killing a spectator in his accident.
Outsiders and compulsory passages
The angle of the film is obviously to show outsiders in whom no one believes, whether it’s this young man from working-class neighborhoods (we also have the impression of seeing allusions to the career of Lewis Hamilton), the team manager eccentric who launched this crazy idea (embodied by Orlando Bloom) or the track engineer, a former pilot marked by a tragedy during his career, who does not believe in it at all at the beginning then ties a relationship more and more strong with the young foal from the GT Academy. The inevitable stages are there, with the difficult beginnings, the dashed hopes, the revealing crash then the final e apotheosis.
We also do not avoid a few clichés, with the antagonist head to slap and daddy’s boy full of himself, the love interest, the improbable overruns and the virile downshifts to disengage and overtake the opponent. Some implausibilities too, with pilots who overreact at the wheel and even sometimes lose their nerves in an exaggerated way, sometimes very childish explanations and radio advice (which are there to enlighten the profane spectator, of course, but which make the pilots pass for stupid at times), behavior on the track beyond the limit but never penalized (the great rival Capa who presses you against the wall and kicks you) or even this sequence at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans where Jann , still disturbed by his crash at the Nürburgring, is driving in slow motion lost in his anguish. The picky will also have noticed that on the sequence supposed to take place at Le Mans, many shots were made on the Hungaroring…)
Cocorico, the Nissan prototype that we see in the final sequence is a Ligier JS-PX.
In the end, we still have a good time, even if the enlightened and knowledgeable viewer can smile about many situations. The racing sequences are well represented, despite recourse at times to CGIs that are sometimes too visible and a fairly agreed scenario.