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Three And Out

Mackenzie Crook in Three And Out

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

FROM its lame and borderline offensive premise to the completely uneven tone that it srikes throughout, Three And Out is a totally inept British comedy that wastes the talents of a pretty decent cast.

Paul Callow (Mackenzie Crook) is a London Tube driver who accidentally runs two people down with his train over the space of a few days. Informed by his colleagues of the ‘three and out’ rule, whereby drivers are paid 10 years’ salary in one lump sum and shipped out of the profession if they kill three people in under a month, Paul contemplates staging the final accident and retiring to Scotland to write his dream novel.

He subsequently enlists the help of suicidal misfit Tommy Cassidy (Colm Meaney) to complete the job before the deadline, but must travel to the Lake District via Liverpool to help Tommy tie up the loose ends in his life. These include reconciling things with his wife (Imelda Staunton) whom he walked out on eight years ago and his feisty daughter (Gemma Arterton). Come Monday morning, however, will Paul be able to go through with the deal?

The creative team behind Three And Out – which includes leading TV comedy director Jonathan (Wild West/Dead Ringers) Gershfield and writers Steve Lewis and Tony Owen – hope that audiences will laugh, cry and be on the edge of their seat at times.

But they’ll probably be wanting to leave long before the final credits have rolled given the misguided nature of proceedings.

The film is already in trouble with London Transport and, prior to the press screening, included a statement stressing that “great care” had been taken to “make sure that the more emotive elements of the film were handled as sensitively as possible”.

But it’s one of the film’s fundamental flaws that it struggles to escape the distasteful nature of the early ‘jokes’ involving Tube accidents as viewers are left to ponder, almost immediately, what they were thinking?

Matters don’t improve as none of the characters warrant much sympathy – and some feel cheap and exploited.

Mackenzie Crook proves a fairly decent leading man despite not being given much to work with, while Colm Meaney appears to be over-compensating by exaggerating almost every scene. But he, too, fails to generate the empathy the director was anticipating.

Worse still, Imelda Staunton appears in a thankless role as Tommy’s long-suffering wife and her character fails to ring true, while new Bond girl Gemma Arterton feels woefully exploited by way of a totally gratuitous sex scene that feels out of place within the context of proceedings.

Brief appearances by Sir Anthony Sher and Gary Lewis add nothing to proceedings (save for padding it out unnecessarily), while a cameo from Kerry Katona is excruciatingly awful and on a par with Jennifer Ellison in The Cottage for worse Scouser of the year.

A supposedly feelgood conclusion is also deeply unsatisfactory given what’s just happened before. Three And Out is therefore a woefully misguided attempt to derive comedy from difficult, heartfelt issues that simply cannot recover from a bad start and some consistently poor characterisation.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 108mins
UK DVD Release: September 15, 2008