out of Five
Running time: 103
Impressively directed and beautifully shot, this is a superb documentary that's by turns thrilling, heart-breaking, jaw-dropping and laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to exhilarating race sequences and a delightfully colourful central character in the form of people's champion Guy Martin.
What's it all about?
Directed by Richard de Aragues and narrated by Jared Leto, TT3D:
Closer to the Edge is a documentary about the annual Isle of Man TT races, in which motorbike riders compete for the titular Tourist Trophy by racing around five different courses, each of which is fraught with danger: indeed, as the film soberly points out upfront, a total of 231 riders have lost their lives on the course since the races began in 1907.
The film attempts to follow a number of different riders as they prepare for the 2010 event, including legendary winner John McGuinness, young local boy Connor Cummins, super-fit challenger Ian Hutchinson and seemingly lone female competitor Jenny Tinmouth.
However, it largely abandons that idea in favour of sticking with colourful, fast-talking, heavily-sideburned Lincolnshire biker Guy Martin, who's given to delightful non-sequiteurs (“He nearly got his dog to talk. Nearly”) and cheerfully talks about wanking while discussing his various routines.
Guy Martin is such a fantastic character that he often threatens to unbalance the film, since he's both extremely funny and much more fascinating than anyone else we see on screen. This occasionally backfires (it would have been interesting to learn more about Jenny Tinmouth, for example) and it means that you automatically end up rooting for Martin in the race sequences, which seems a little unfair on the other competitors.
The race sequences are cleverly edited to include both snatches of commentary and footage of the riders at key moments; as such they're genuinely exhilarating to watch and there are heart-stopping moments when various competitors come off their bikes (in other words, the film provides both thrills and spills).
The 3D works brilliantly throughout, plunging you into the onscreen action with the use of helmet-mounted cameras and high-speed footage; this is particularly powerful during a shocking crash sequence. On top of that, the film is superbly put together with engaging details, such as an ex-competitor driving around the course in a car and giving you a running commentary on how to take each corner, complete with motorbike noises, while de Aragues even finds room on the soundtrack for George Formby's “Riding in the TT Races”.
Well made and superbly shot, this is a hugely enjoyable documentary that's a must-see for motorbike fans and newcomers alike. Highly recommended.