Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Richard De Aragues.
Every year since 1907 the Isle of Man has hosted the Tourist Trophy, a motorcycle endurance race that has been recognised as the greatest motorcycle road race in the world. Competitors race around 60 miles of winding roads and small villages at speeds of up to 250km/h. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy is also amongst the most dangerous motorsport events, as over 200 people have died during the race or its practice runs, with many more being injured. This staggering statistic hangs over the film, adding a poignant note. Despite the dangers though, professional and amateur riders converge on the sleepy island every year to compete.
This high-octane testosterone fuelled documentary is set against the background of the 2010 race. Richard De Aragues, a former director of commercials making his feature documentary debut here, takes audiences inside the race to illustrate both its dangers, its enduring appeal, and it also explores the determination of the racers themselves who are aware of the risks involved.
De Aragues follows several charismatic and colourful competitors, including talented young professional rider Ian Hutchinson, local hero Conor Cummins, second generation Irish champion Michael Dunlop, lone female competitor Jenny Tinmouth, and record-breaking defending champion John Maguinness, who are all vying for the championship title. These riders talk at length about their ambitions and what the race means for them. There is also an interview with a widow, who admits that her husband died doing what he enjoyed most, which adds a sombre note to the proceedings.
But De Aragues finds pure gold with Guy Martin, the cheeky, charismatic, fast-talking 28-year-old maverick who is determined to win this year. A colourful and fascinating character who is interesting in his own right, Martin candidly about previous crashes that he survived. He also cheerfully talks about his sexuality and wanking while discussing his preparation for the big race.
The film explores in depth some of the sport’s rivalries, as well as tracing the history of the event through archival footage and clips from the classic 1936 George Formby film No Limit. There is plenty of exciting racing footage, and lots of spills and horrific crashes, which will appeal to revheads. The clever use of helmet-mounted cameras at times makes you feel as if you are there in the thick of the action. Much of the film has been shot in 3D, which adds to the visual impact and the exhilarating adrenaline rush of the actual race itself. And TT3D shows again that documentaries seem to be making the best use of the 3D process.
Jared Leto’s narration is fairly colourless and gives little insight. With a running time stretched to 104 minutes, there also seems to be some padding.
Technically well made, brilliantly edited and superbly shot, TT3D: Closer To The Edge is a must-see documentary for motorbike fans. Unlike the recent Senna though, which is one of the best sporting documentaries to hit cinemas in recent years, TT 3D may not have the same broad appeal for casual audiences.