Film & Television

John Maguire on film: Car racing promo Gran Turismo gets nowhere very fast

A motor sports movie based on a video game was never going to be stellar, but Gran Turismo is little more than a special effects spectacle

Archie Madekwe plays Welsh gamer Jann Mardenborough in Gran Turismo, from South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp

Gran Turismo, directed by Neill Blomkamp; nationwide, 12A; rating: **

In 2009, South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp announced himself with the punk alien-invasion sci-fi movie District 9, which used a marooned spaceship in the skies over Johannesburg as a metaphor for the international response to displaced people and refugees. A global success, this debut earned four Oscar nominations including a Best Film nod. Blomkamp’s subsequent productions, however, have struggled to find the same form.

Elysium folded themes of social inequality into a then-voguish dystopia but, despite the presence of Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, was overhyped and undersold. Chappie, a noisy near-future epic about policing ethics, again combined big ideas and effects-driven thrills. But cult hits don’t cash cheques. A switch from sci-fi to low-budget horror with Demonic, shot and released during the dog days of the Covid pandemic, generated widespread disinterest.