Kill Me Three Times (2014)

Kill Me Three Times (2014)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Action | Thriller
  • Director: Kriv Stenders
  • Cast: Simon Pegg, Teresa Palmer, Alice Braga


A mercurial assassin (Simon Pegg) discovers he isn’t the only person trying to kill the siren (Alice Braga) of a sun-drenched surfing town. In this darkly comedic thriller, the hitman finds himself unravelling three tales of mayhem, murder, blackmail and revenge.

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  • A severe lack of imagination and messy execution dampen what little fun is to be had in the bloodless comic neo-noir Kill Me Three Times. First-time screenwriter James McFarland has seemingly just discovered The Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez – there is not one scene or scrap of dialogue that is not derivative of those filmmakers’ pulpy works.

    Professional hitman Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg) has been hired by jealous husband Jack (Callan Mulvey) to do away with his wife Alice (Alice Braga), who has been cheating on him with hunky mechanic Dylan (Luke Hemsworth). It seems Charlie is about to make an easy 100K in Australian dollars since Jack’s manipulative sister Lucy (Teresa Palmer) and her lily-livered husband Nathan (Sullivan Stapleton) already have Alice’s murder on their minds. Deep in debt, the couple plan on using Alice’s body to fake Lucy’s death so they can collect on the insurance policy. Of course, not everything goes according to plan as all players scheme and strategise, attempted murders are continually thwarted, trusts are betrayed, and blindsides are bandied about like confetti.

    Director Kriv Stenders, fresh off the Australian hit Red Dog, and McFarland go for two gambits that work on paper but are bungled in practice. One is the non-linear narrative, an obvious nod to Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, that takes the chronology of events and shuffles them all about. Though the plotting is overcomplicated, it is an essentially simple story and the switchbacking structure adds an element of interest to the goings-on. The problem is the device exposes the script’s numerous failings – one-dimensional characters, vapid dialogue, an increasing confusion in tone, mechanical and self-conscious maneuvering.

    The second gambit is to keep Pegg in the periphery for most of the proceedings. In theory, this is a clever move as the assassin rarely gets his hands dirty, merely sitting back to watch all the players backstab one another and do his work for him. Yet Stenders should have immediately realised that Pegg was the one good thing about this sorry film, and reconsidered his focus. Pegg clearly relishes playing the baddie, and he wrings laughs out of the simplest of lines. The shades of sarcasm and bemusement in his delivery of “Honey, I’m having a bad day here” is one to savour. Even his anguished wails are funny to hear.

    Stenders has an obvious love for violence, given his almost amorous fetish for slow-motion shots of blood ribboning from freshly punctured flesh. Cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson renders the Australian locations with crispness and luminous vibrancy. Vivid touches of colour – Alice’s fuchsia dress, the red of the paper lanterns, the turquoise wall of Nathan’s office, the purplish tint of a brick wall, and the impossible blue of both the ocean and Palmer’s eyes – distract from the been-there, done-that machinations.

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