Three and Out (2008)
12th September 2008
Being an underground train driver is never an easy job. When you're not on strike or travelling in the dark underground tunnels, there's always the problem of jumpers or those poor unfortunate people who accidentally fall onto the track. One such person is tube driver Paul Callow and he's just accidentally run someone down with his train - his first such incident. Naturally, there's counselling and sick leave, but he turns it all down and soldiers on, fed up with city life and dreaming of a new life in Scotland where he can finally settle down and write his, currently, unwritten first novel.
However, a few days later, he has the misfortune of having yet another 'one-under' his train. The trauma of this event does little to improve his already melancholy mood, but his colleagues tell him about a little known 'rule' at London Underground that no one ever talks about. And the rule? If you have three 'under' within a month and you're pensioned off early with a huge pay off and ten years salary. With his idyllic new life still fresh on his mind, do you take the trauma counselling or seek out a third 'one-under', take the cash, pay off your debts and retire to a Scottish idyll to write a novel?
Wise decision, or not, Paul finally sees a way of clearing his debts and escaping to a better life - all he has to do is find a willing third 'under', and what better what than finding someone who wants to commit suicide. Enter the one and only Tommy Cassidy, depressed and estranged from his family and about to jump off a bridge. After a bit of coaxing down and a swift pint (or two), Tommy agrees to Paul's plan to fall in front of his train, but only after making amends with his wife Rosemary and daughter Frankie. With his month time limit running out, the pair must first embark on a journey to the Lake District to take care of Tommy's unfinished family business. Needless to say, Paul's plan soon starts to fall apart.
The picture is surprisingly bright and colourful with a high level of detail, wide ranges of colours and above average bit-rate throughout. With a limited budget the picture is not going to be challenging any of the Hollywood big budget block busters, but it is still quite impressive and exhibits no signs of artifacting or outlining - it's just a pity that the digital transfer doesn't help improve Mackenzie Crook's rather hideous looking face that's never going to win any beauty pageants.
The 384 Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 is surprisingly effective - especially for a British film (and a fairly low key one at that). Typically, for a British film, the wide ranging musical score takes centre stage, with a good selection of tracks spawning the inevitable soundtrack CD. The score finds its way to all of the channels, but it tends to congregate in the surround channels - leaving the centre and front channels to the rather colourful dialogue. Whilst there are no dramatic special effects or explosions to rattle your fillings, your surround system will be kept busy throughout the film and it makes the film all that more appealing. If only more films could provide a soundtrack as interesting as the one presented here.
For a filming coming in pretty much under the radar, and probably on a tight budget, the menu system is pleasantly animated - with a nice animated introduction before showing various cut scenes - and scored with the music from the film. Although each additional menu is a static and silent affair there is at least a nice transition effect between them all. Extras wise, there's a good selection on offer here and it really does help add some value to a film that you could easily bypass in the shop or your local rental store.
The main extra on the DVD is the twenty-five minute Making of Featurette. With plenty of clips from the film and the associational bit of behind-the-scenes footage, the feature is a reasonable look at the origins and ideas behind the film with cast members Mackenzie Crook, Colm Meaney, Gemma Arterton and director Jonathan Gershfield. There's the usual all round back slapping, but Mackenzie Crook appears to be pretty genuine in his gushing praise for the various stars around him - in fact Gemma Arterton comes in for most of it and everyone admits she was quite a coup for the film (especially since she's a Bond girl in the Quantum of Solace and will now be unlikely to be seen in anything as cheap as this production again). Needless to say, after watching the featurette it's quite easy to realise that the production crew were very fortunate in getting the stars they did - and they even admit they didn't do it for the money.
The extras also include ten Deleted Scenes. Running for a total of twelve minutes, and covering the majority of the film, they vary in interest and length. Although the scenes can be individually selected there's no "Play All" option. The quality is nothing special too, with a relatively grainy image plus time coding superimposed on the image. A commentary, or even text, would have been of use too as you're currently expected to work out why the scenes in questions were removed.
The three minute Alternate Credits is a weird one, with a montage of film footage before the film finally comes to a close. It's not hard to see why this was changed as it left me confused as to what it was trying to say - after all, we'd just been through the same journey over the past ninety minutes and didn't need another reminder. Also included are two differently styled Theatrical Trailers. Although plainly filler material, the extras are rounded off with a rather in-depth set of separate Cast and Crew Biographies. All in all, not a bad collection of extras.
Whilst the comedy is most definitely dark, especially since we're dealing with suicides or fatal accidents here, it's not going to appeal to all viewers. When the review disc arrived I wasn't even too sure about it myself and the film certainly touched a nerve as, during the British premier of the theatrical release in London, members of the ASLEF (the union of the underground railway workers) handed out leaflets about the distressing instances of suicide on the railways. They certainly had a point, but there's no doubting that the film is touching and people should look through the rather depressing subject matter and discover its sentimental heart.
It may not be a film that everyone is going to enjoy - and a few letters will no doubt be sent to the Daily Mail, but if you're a fan of dark humour and want a film with a great collection of British actors (with Mackenzie Crook being on top form) then you can't go wrong with Three and Out.
- Making of Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Alternate Credits
- Cast Biographies
- Crew Biographies