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The Gran Turismo Movie Was Directly Inspired By A Steve McQueen Classic

Sony's racing film "Gran Turismo" is set for a theater release this summer, and from the looks of the trailer, it promises to be a spectacular and thrilling ride. "Gran Turismo" is the story of Welsh teenager Jann Mardenborough, who in 2011 beat out 90,000 other Playstation gamers to win a seat in a real-life Nissan race car. 

The upcoming film stars David Harbour and Orlando Bloom, and it is directed by Neill Blomkamp. In an interview for Playstation Blog, Blomkamp cited a personal love for auto racing and mentioned that he owns three Nissan R35 model GTR cars. 

"I have a personal obsession with Nissan and the whole Nismo lineage, so I was immediately intrigued as a car lover," Blomkamp said. He also mentioned that the project was attractive to him because it contrasted with the darker themes of most of his previous projects. "It had never crossed my mind that I would direct a movie where the audience would leave the theater feeling uplifted and inspired. This was really appealing to me."

Blomkamp was asked if he leaned on any previous motorsport films for inspiration. He in fact did, going back three decades for inspiration. 

"The one film that I can genuinely point to and say is directly referenced in 'Gran Turismo' is Steve McQueen's 'Le Mans,'" Blomkamp said." That movie is insane. You can tell how fast they're going. You can tell how dangerous it is. You can even tell how polluting the cars are. It's amazing."

Le Mans got mixed reviews despite some compelling race footage

 "Le Mans" was released in 1971 and included actual footage from the 1970 24-hours of LeMans. McQueen plays Porsche driver Michael Delaney, who is haunted by his involvement in the fatal crash of Ferrari's Piero Belgetti in the previous year's race. 

The film got a mixed reception, earning kudos for its realistic depictions of race action and adrenaline-producing sequences but losing points for a dull story and having the performances of the cars overshadow those of the actors. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes give it a 69 percent rating, while audiences rate it at 79 percent.

Chris Perkins of Road and Track, for instance, called it "deeply flawed, with hardly any plot, or even dialogue to speak of." Meanwhile, James Powers of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film was powerful and well done but still lacked in one important factor. 

"'Le Mans' is a class film in every way, attitude, realization, taste," he wrote. "It has visceral emotion, but not heart."

"Gran Turismo" has built-in heart in the form of Jann Mardenborough's incredible story, and Neill Blomkamp appears poised to do something exciting with it. 

"Usually there's someone exploding or some genetically mutated creature running amok in my films," Blomkamp said. "I just never would have thought in a trillion years that I would have made a race/sports movie. It's even surprising now, saying it."