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Review – Gran Turismo (film, 2023) – Not just a ‘must-see’ for GT enthusiasts

August 7, 2023


Today, the use of racing simulators is very common in motorsports. Professional teams use sim racing to discover new talent and improve the skills and reaction times of their drivers. If drivers are not in a real race car, they are probably sitting at home behind the wheel of an expensive simracing setup. Verstappen, Leclerc and Norris even have full-fledged online racing careers. But not so long ago, sim racers were looked down upon in racing. A computer game is a lot different from reality, right? Japanese game designer Kazunori Yamauchi thought that was just nonsense.

Playstation Gran Turismo

In 1992, Kazunori began the development of Gran Turismo with one clear goal in mind: to create the most realistic racing game possible. In fact, it wasn’t even supposed to be a game, but a simulator. Just as pilots learn to fly with Microsoft Flight Simulator, he wanted to teach drivers to race with Gran Turismo. You probably know the rest of the story. The game became a resounding success and has now reached its seventh edition. Since the franchise’s debut in 1997, more than 90 million copies have been sold worldwide, making it the best-selling video game series within the Playstation universe.

Gran Turismo movie

Now a movie has been made about the game that many a car enthusiast grew up with. Due to the Hollywood strike, the theatrical release has been delayed for a few weeks, but it will be available in Dutch cinemas at the end of August. The film Gran Turismo revolves not only around the iconic PlayStation game, but also two other main characters: Jann Mardenborough and the Nissan GT-R.

Jann Mardenborough

The film Gran Turismo is based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough. What began as a hobby in the virtual world of Grand Turismo grew into a career as a professional driver. Jann Mardenborough was born Sept. 9, 1991, in Cardiff, Wales. As a teenager, he spent all his free time on his Playstation. A game collection he did not have. There was only one CD-ROM in his console: Gran Turismo. At age 11, he started karting. But his parents – played in the film by Djimon Hounsou(Furious 7, Captain Marvel) and Geri Halliwell (yes, that one yes: Spice Girl and wife of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner) – don’t have enough money to pay for his expensive hobby. So a real racing career does not seem to be in the cards for Jann.

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GT Academy

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a clever Nissan marketing man – Darren Cox, played by Orlando Bloom – devised the GT Academy. For this competition, the Japanese automaker invited the best Gran Turismo gamers and had them compete for the ultimate prize: the chance to receive professional racing training, with the goal of a contract with Nissan’s racing team. Jann accepted the challenge and, out of thousands of participants, was eventually chosen to participate in a Nissan training and development program.

From gamer to racer

After an intensive period in the Nissan Driver Development Program – led by former driver Jack Salter (masterfully played by Stranger Things actor David Harbour), Jann made his debut in motor racing in 2012, in the British Formula 3 Championship. He quickly impressed with his speed and quickly advanced to higher levels of motorsports. In 2014, he experienced the highlight of his career when he was allowed to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and took second place in his class.

Worth the effort?

As a fan of
Gran Turismo
you must have the film high on your list. Because let’s face it, who hasn’t dreamed of a racing career behind their Playstation wheel? Car enthusiasts who have nothing to do with games also come into their own. The Nissan GT-R steals the show, and the mighty sound of the twin-blown 3.8-liter V6 sounds almost as good through a roaring audio system of a cinema auditorium as it does in real life.