The very first thing my fellow gamer friend and I laughed at was the official movie tagline in all-caps: BASED ON THE INSANE TRUE STORY OF A GAMER WHO BECAME A RACER.
Maybe we’re just too deep into gaming. After all, we’ve known about this story since it first broke and we’ve read countless of articles about Jann Mardenborough.
The story isn’t new to the esports and gaming community, but the storytelling in the movie is.
A spoiler-free Gran Turismo movie review by ONE Esports
It’s the first time in movie-making history where the person doing stunts, Jann Mardenborough, is actually doing stunts for himself on behalf of the actor playing him, Archie Madekwe. It’s also the first time an actual esports title and gamer — not Dungeons and Dragons — takes center stage in a Hollywood film.
That said, not everything is factual, not even some of the main characters, and that’s perfectly okay. We live in a fictional world half our lives anyway, dwelling in Azeroth, Runeterra, and The Land of Dawn.
But this movie wasn’t made for us or our community. It was made for mass appeal — for people who don’t game, for casual gamers who never touched an esports title, for serious gamers who dwell in other genres, and even for sim racers themselves.
How does director Neill Blomkamp achieve this? By telling a compelling story.
Gamers are more familiar with this than anyone else — we party in RPGs with our friends for the immersion and compete fiercely against them in MOBA, FPS, FCG, CCG, and TFT. These experiences create shared memories and binding stories that become a part of who we are.
Even though Gran Turismo is a solo ride, we all know that no gamer is an island. The movie made it a point to anchor its essence in Jann and his relationship with the people around him, and you can tell by the tension in its editing.
A typical action film builds until it reaches a climax, with high highs and low lows. Usually, we see a character as they are, conflict is then introduced, which forces them to make a heroic choice that cumulates to the ultimate battle of triumph.
There is a build-up and climax in Gran Turismo of course, and while it may over-dramatize other characters and racing itself, the most important thing is that it never overdramatizes Jann.
That string of red losses that we see on our screen? That strong belief in our skills mixed with tinges of doubt when we go into new ranked game despite seeing DEFEAT the whole night? The euphoria we express the moment we achieve that one win at 4 a.m. in the morning? You’ll feel this universal gaming experience conveyed through the movie’s racing sim lens and Archie Madekwe’s acting.
Now the whole point of reading this Gran Turismo movie review is to answer your question: As a gamer, should I watch the movie? The short answer is yes.
You might laugh at some parts of it while the rest of the cinema remains silent, you might relate to certain scenes more than others. At the end of the day, you and I know that non-gamers may try to understand our world but they will never truly get us.
To the outside world, it’s easier to convince them that a TRUE STORY based on a simulator based on real-life racing leads to something tangible — so no, this isn’t an esports movie. It isn’t about someone going pro, even though the movie is named after an esports title. In fact, it’s much more sports than esports, and to the outside world, that’s the same thing.
Only we know the difference, which allows us to appreciate the movie at a more complex level.
I’ll take that as a win.
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