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Fear is the most primal of human emotions. It’s the most powerful feeling in the world, regulating one’s every move and thought, lest it be their last.
Fear and the Isle of Man go hand-in-hand. It is a place reserved for a different breed of motorcycle rider, a place that brings not just fear but equals it out with an adrenalin kick unattainable anywhere else this side of a wingman suit or illicit drugs.
Those who race the Isle of Man know what they’re doing, they know the risks, and they know the consequence if it all goes wrong. This breed of person you don’t meet often in everyday life, and this is one of the primary features of the new movie, Tourist Trophy.
This is the first feature-length film since the roaringly successful& Closer To The Edge epic of 2011 that the now retired Guy Martin made his own, so& Tourist Trophy has some big shoes to fill. The TT has changed much since that time over a decade ago, but then, it hasn’t changed at all, and that’s one of the endearing factors of the race.
Tourist Trophy& focuses on six riders and their individual tales from the 37 ¾ mile street course. Rookie and young father Glenn Irwin on the factory Honda, his teammate and 23-time TT winner John McGuinness, the current master of the TT, Peter Hickman, sidecar brothers Ben and Tom Birchall, and Michael “Jack” Russell, who attempted to become the first man in TT history to finish every single event in a year—Superbike, Superstock, Super Twins, Supersport, Sidecar, and the Senior TT.
Tourist Trophy& has some exceptional videography scattered throughout. The onboard shots are as close as you will get to actually being on the motorcycle, and the brilliant slow-motion shots really show the hammering the motorcycles take during a given race.
Listening to how Peter Hickman attacks the course, or how McGuinness ensures his mind is firmly on the job is enthralling as he taps into a level of concentration few humans will ever attain. Another part that really got me was Glenn Irwin’s reaction after his first laps of the TT course, a feeling I know only too well as I was a rookie with him this year, too.
Michael “Jack” Russell is, for me, the man of the film. This is what the TT is about, grafters who put everything on the line simply to compete, with no real hope of getting a major result. The privateers are what make the TT what it is, and Russell’s never-say-die approach is the highlight of the movie.
However, what& Tourist Trophy& does not do is adequately convey the bad side of the TT, which is just as important as the heroics performed on the track. Six riders (Mark Purslow, sidecar duo Cesar Chanal and Olivier Lavorel, Davy Morgan, and father and son sidecar pairing Roger and Bradley Stockton) lost their lives this year. The film does not mention either their names or the fact there were fatalities at all until towards the end of the film, which I thought was a shame and to the detriment of the film.
This fact took some of the shine off an otherwise very good movie.& Tourist Trophy& shows the TT in its best light, and you can’t blame the directors for that. I would have liked a cameo from the man primarily responsible for making the TT the incredible event that it is in Paul Phillips, the man who has done so much to ensure the longevity and safety of the most dangerous race in the world as his insight into the race would have given the movie a slightly different angle. And to have the rookie liaison officers of John Barton and the hilarious Richard ‘Milky’ Quale, not on camera was a bummer.
Tourist Trophy& will doubtless bring new fans into the fold, which is objective number one for a film such as this. All criticisms aside, it’s a great watch and will likely leave you with that sudden urge to check your annual leave to see the event and experience the fear for yourself.
Tourist Trophy& is free to watch on TT+, the TT’s free-to-register digital platform, and streams from 19:30 GMT on Wednesday, November 23, 2022.