Gran Turismo

Fast and flaccid gamer bait

We are told that this is the true story of how a talented young arcade-game car racer (Archie Madekwe — meh) was taken under Nissan’s wing to be trained as a real driver of real race cars. We are also told that this story, which is essentially about a corporate marketing gimmick, is “unbelievably inspirational.” Guess I missed that part.

Basically we are presented with a relentless string of not-all-that-exciting preliminary car races involving the same cars (Nissan GT-Rs) interspersed with soapy, made-up subplots, trite platitudes and mostly bad acting, especially Orlando Bloom as an idealistic motor sports marketing exec. Fingernails on a blackboard. But managing to shine are David Harbour, ruggedly soulful as usual, as the failed veteran driver assigned to retrain the gamer for the real road, and Djimon Hounsou, criminally underused as the lad’s dad. The director is Neill Blomkamp, which is surprising after his far better District 9.

It was hard to suppress my natural cynicism about this console-jockey’s wet dream. The cars feature little CGI flourishes identifying them so you don’t forget you’re watching a two-hour-plus infomercial for a video game and a Japanese carmaker. We are reminded in every scene that “this is not a game,” or “you could die.”  The phrases “You got this” and “I got your back” are uttered almost as often. With a little more attention to character development, this coulda been “Rocky on the Racetrack” rather than “Geek v. Ferrari.” (134 min)