With so much media attention surrounding the narrative of deaths on the Tube in Three and Out, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
But you’d be wrong.
The subject matter in Director Jonathan Gershfield’s first feature film makes for some uncomfortable viewing initially. Within Paul Callow’s (Mackenzie Crook) first few days of being a London Underground Tube driver, he accidentally runs down a man who has fallen on to the tracks. Only a few days pass before he has the incredible misfortune of history repeating itself. So it’s no surprise that he is traumatised by these series of unfortunate events. Being signed off sick twice in your first two weeks is pretty tough, but Paul’s state of mind is challenged after he is informed about LUL’s three and out policy by Vic (Paul Benton). If you run over and kill three people in a month, you're paid off with 10 years’ salary in a lump sum.
With this in mind, Paul sets out on finding a third victim to die under his train.
Unbelievably all of this happens within the first five minutes of the film, leaving you scratching your head, wondering how on earth there could be 100 minutes of the film left to run. But it soon becomes clear that this potentially hilarious script stutters under its own long-winded, dull subplots.
After scouting central London for the potential ‘number three’, Paul finds Tommy Cassidy (Colm Meaney) preparing to jump off Holborn Viaduct. After persuading him not to jump, he incredibly, and rather unrealistically, agrees to die under Paul’s train. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am – done and dusted.
Well, no actually. After becoming very pally with his soon- to-be-dead Irish friend, Paul shows Tommy what he plans to do with his pay-off. He wants to get out of London and buy a huge chunk of land in Scotland, so he can be alone with his books.
As this is apparently a comedy, it’s painful to see Crook being so uncharacteristically unfunny. Not once is he used for comedic value, his only purpose being involved in the film seems to be his name, rather than using him for any artistic reason. It’s an absolute waste, as the audience has to put up with the whole plotline focusing on Tommy rekindling his love with his estranged wife and grown up daughter Frankie (Gemma Arterton) who takes a shine to Paul.
After appearing as head girl in St Trinian’s, Arterton’s role in Three and Out as the misunderstood girl from a broken home soon becomes tiresome, not to mention her awful attempt at a scouse accent.
After meandering through a clumsy narrative of Tommy finding himself and patching up his past mistakes, Paul decides he can’t bring himself to kill his new best buddy. But after a night on the beer, Tommy declares there’s no turning back.
Paul’s naivety is highlighted when he returns to work and is mocked by his colleagues after they reveal that the ‘three and out’ policy is actually nonsense.
With a cold sweat and racing heart, Paul prepares for his early morning shift, knowing that Tommy will walk in front of his train.
What is infuriating is what happens next. After effectively murdering Tommy, there is no inquest, no police questioning and no official interrogation of his wife or daughter. Had any officials spoken to Tommy’s family, they would soon have discovered Paul’s unconventional relationship with the recently-deceased and he would undoubtedly be imprisoned.
But hey, this is a film after all, so what happens? Well, Frankie comes down to London and we wave goodbye to our happy couple, with them jumping into the sea, holding hands, head to toe in diving gear.
It’s disappointing to see Crook affiliated with such tripe. It’s unsurprising that British films aren’t getting the exposure they believe they deserve when the end product is just plain embarrassing.