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Film of the Week: Generation Xbox

MARIA DUARTE is swept up in the real-life story of a gamer made good, that is yet another appropriation of cinema for marketing purposes

Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story (12A)
Directed by Neill Blomkamp

 
THIS film is based on the extraordinary but little known story of a working-class lad, growing up in Cardiff, who was transformed from a gamer into a formula one racing car driver. Although you can be forgiven for thinking this is a 135-minute-long advert for Gran Turismo and Nissan, which feature prominently throughout. 
 
Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9) and starring one of the most eclectic casts ever, which includes Orlando Bloom, David Harbour from Stranger Things, double Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou and Geri Halliwell Horner (better known as Ginger Spice), it is a classic underdog sports film. 
 
It follows teenage racing fan Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) who plays the Gran Turismo video game all hours of the day to the despair of his father (Hounsou) who believes it is a complete waste of time. But when Jann competes in a Gran Turismo competition to win a spot in Nissan’s GT Academy race team, he is chosen out of thousands by marketing executive Danny Moore (Bloom) and trained by a washed up, cynical former racing car driver Jack Salter (Harbour) to race for Nissan in high-profile races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 
 
In the thrilling race scenes Blomkamp gives the audience a front seat view to the action in which the real life Jann Mardenborough acted as Madekwe’s stunt driving double, which is a nice touch. It feels like you are in the car with him in these nail-biting sequences, including a harrowing crash. 
 
Madekwe, who gives a charismatic and solid performance, holds his own opposite veterans Bloom and Harbour, who is a joy to watch as the grumpy, jaded ex-driver. Hounsou, however, is somewhat wasted in the minuscule role of Jann’s dad. 
 
You cannot help but root for this working-class teenager, who listens to Kenny G and Enya, to succeed and win against all the odds. 
 
It is an awe-inspiring story which deserves to be told. Whether Gran Turismo does it true justice is another matter. 

Out in cinemas on Friday

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