Weekend film reviews: ‘Gran Turismo,’ ‘Retribution,’ ‘Golda’

“Gran Turismo” is based on a true story about a teenage gamer who became a real-life racer. Credit: YouTube.

This week’s film releases include “Gran Turismo,” “Retribution,” “Golda,” and “Bottoms.” KCRW gets reviews from Amy Nicholson, host of the podcast Unspooled and film reviewer for The New York Times; and William Bibbiani, film critic for The Wrap and co-host of the Critically Acclaimed Network of podcasts.

“Gran Turismo”

This racing movie is based on the video game series of the same name and a true story about a teenage gamer who became a real-life racer. It stars David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, and Archie Madekwe; and is directed by Neill Blomkamp.

Nicholson: “It's one of the worst scripts I've ever endured about a genuinely cool story. Maybe the problem here is that the script just feels like a bunch of marketing guys underlined every scene and said, ‘Make it more obvious.’ We're told like 900 times in the first hour that this game is so realistic, that ‘it's exactly like training on the actual track, and if you don't believe me in the scene, I'm going to say it again in the very next scene.’ Because of that, and because of the way it's put together, it's a little bit sloppy. Sometimes the aesthetics are very video gamey.

… Even though it's not a good movie, the individual performances in this are actually really good. The heart of this movie is David Harbour as this racing coach, and I swear as dumb as the script was, when Harbour gives you a little bit of respect, when you feel like you earned Harbour’s respect, my heart warmed despite itself. He’s the engine of this film.” 

Bibbiani: “If you can get over the fact that this movie desperately wants you to buy a Playstation — and preferably a Nissan — which is all over every single frame of this thing … you might enjoy it.” 


In Liam Neeson’s latest family-driven action flick, the actor must save his children from a bomb threat. When dropping the kids off at school, he receives a phone call, and the person on the other end of the line says if he stops the cars, the bomb will detonate. It is a remake of the 2015 Spanish film “El Desconocido.” 

Bibbiani: “I'm starting to feel bad for Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson has become the face of an entire genre. If you think about a low-budget or modestly-budgeted thriller, you think of Liam Neeson. He's like what Vincent Price was to horror movies, except Vincent Price had fun when he made horror movies, and Liam Neeson could not look more bored in this movie.” 

Nicholson: “There are 25 minutes of this movie that are actually really fun. The very beginning of the kids being in the car, because the first thing that this unknown bad guy says on the phone is, ‘You've got to get your kids’ cell phones,’ and the kids just lose their minds. … Once everybody snaps into line, and they're like, ‘Okay, now we've really got to solve this bomb problem,’ the movie becomes so dumb. … It gets bad so fast and the more people talk and explain why they're doing what they're doing, the more you're like, ‘That's absolutely an idiotic plan.’ And everybody in this movie just comes across moronic.


Helen Mirren stars in this historical drama about Golda Meir, who was Israel’s prime minister during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. 

Nicholson: “What this film is really doing is analyzing where this war went wrong, and why so many people died. And I think it actually does — for a divisive topic — try to keep the focus on just how bad the body count was … across both sides of the battlefield. … Even though we're, say, with Golda and her advisers when they're massacring tons of Egyptian soldiers, and they're clapping, the camera itself reacts by swirling around almost like it's nauseous. … [The director] manages to find a very stern and uncompromising morality about this whole situation — that to me made this film really effective.”


Directed by Emma Seligman (“Shiva Baby”), this comedy is about two queer high school students who start a (self-defense) fight club so they can meet girls and possibly have sex before graduation. It stars Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri. 

Bibbiani: “It's also just this wonderful film about girls who feel like they don't have anyone that they can talk to — finding a place where they can, in a very unexpected way that allows them to commit acts of increasingly horrifying violence. … Somehow the film manages to understand that some of the serious topics that it addresses aren't funny, but people are, and they get away with it in a very admirable way.”

Nicholson: “It's an imperfect movie that I highly recommend everybody see anyways. It has just tons of ideas scene to scene. And the ideas I don't think … add up to any coherent thesis, but I was laughing at them individually. … Every single scene in this movie is an inversion of a cliche.”