If you’ve ever wondered what the appeal of riding is, no matter how we bikers try in vain to convert you to two wheels from four, Richard De Aragues’s new documentary film is an excellent place to start. Ok, it’s the extreme version of riding, but it absolutely hammers the message across in the bluntest and rawest of terms.
TT3D: Closer To The Edge is an exhilarating and heart-stopping adrenaline rush full of big ballsy biking, which like the race magic the petrol-head ‘gladiators’ cherish, draws you in and injects you with the TT lunacy drug. And from some of the people present at our screening, attended by two of the riders in the film, Ian ‘Hutchy’ Hutchinson and John ‘Sheep Skin’ McGuinness, you don’t have to ride to begin to understand the passion of dicing with death – and the biking bug. With the utterly entertaining Elvis-and-Wolverine cross, Guy Martin as your maverick ace and the film’s anti-hero (the face on the film poster), you’ll experience the highs and shocking lows of the event, as if you were sitting in the rider’s seat.
The film follows a select few of the international array of riders in the days and nights leading up to and during the 2010’s TT race, one of the most dangerous road races held on the streets of the Isle of Man, and over 100 years old. The goal is the coveted Tourist Trophy – aka the Isle of Man TT. However, for those whose eyes might be glazing over already, it has to be stressed that this film is not all about the sport itself, so requires no in-depth understanding of the rules and regs (and there are numerous frustrating ones, as Martin exposes), but more about how the heart commands the head when someone is truly passionate about something. It’s also about what drives the thrill-seeker, regardless of the risks (i.e. serious injury or death). And parts of the ride place you firmly behind the tank and in control in 3D – apparently.
Our lack of a 3D experience, as we were watching an unfinished film version – and hence, the necessary drop to 4 stars for this review, as we can’t really comment any further on the matter, however much we’d like to – was the biggest caveat of the evening. Our disappointment was quelled somewhat by getting to chat to biking legends Hutchinson and McGuinness and discussing their incredibly optimistic racing plans for this season – especially as the former was still on crutches. It was this dose of reality that made the film even more impacting. But to be fair, as the film stood, it was still as effective as ever. Therefore, make sure you get the full experience, however much every film on the planet today seems to shout ‘I’m in 3D’, allowing the ticket price to be hiked more, as you will come out of this simply buzzing with energy. We did, without 3D.
There is the commonly used phrase, ‘the people’s hero’, but that is what De Aragues’s film is angling for, and how it is achieved. The film has lots of big personalities, but relies on Martin to hook you in and keep you in the frame for the entire duration. His babbling charisma, blatant rule-bending and stubborn ways, and mightily friendly and easy-going stance make him the idea ‘lead’. Therefore, as you feel you know him so well towards the end, there is THE shocking event that leaves you simply mortified and on tender hooks. Those who know the 2010 race’s history will know what that is, but it’s still horrifying to watch again.
In addition to the miles of road surface covered throughout that feels like an introduction to a racing video game, the film is not all ‘full-on’ action, and has some wonderfully humorous and reflective moments of calm, often defusing the tension that builds up. It shows an accomplished and thoughtful piece of film-making, spending time with the winners and losers of the whole event.
The biggest worry about TT3D is it missing an untapped audience – this biker would see it, regardless. The only thing to try and compare it to, particularly the racing moments, is watching an on-board camera YouTube video of some nut on a bike, which are always well received online. But this film is in another league and done with panache, and has some real characters you can get behind and continue to follow. Hell, you might end up at the TT on 30th May at this rate, spectating or otherwise. It certainly makes you seriously consider booking that ticket – or if a natural-born thrill-seeker, getting that CBT test booked…