“Kill Me Three Times” (2104)
The film opens with a man desperately running down a road in the desert. He keeps looking back, hoping that the person or persons chasing him have given. He looks back once again, and this time a car appears on the horizon, coming towards him. He heads up a dune as the car approaches. A man wearing sunglasses gets out of the car, just as the man climbs over the dune. We get a closeup of the pursuer (Simon Pegg), a man who gets out of the truck a high-powered rifle. He slowly climbs the hill, sets his sight on the fleeing man below and shoots the man in two quick bursts. He looks down below at his handy work, only to realize that the man is still alive and is able to move behind a piece of construction equipment. This pisses off the hunter, and he heads down the hill. The hurt man is barely able to crawl, and the hunter shoots the man again, just as his phone rings. The hunter answers the phone, quickly puts it on silent, shoots the crawling man in the head and then takes the rest of the phone call.
And that’s how the comedic film noir movie “Kill Me Three Times” starts. The hunter in the opening scene is Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg), a professional hit man who is cool as ice and never gets caught. Charlie has gotten himself involved in the lives of a group of interconnected people in a small Australian town. The townspeople are all interconnected, most having affairs with each other, and all seem to be full of bad intent. Wolfe is hired by businessman Jack (Callan Murphy) to kill his wife (Alice Braga) after Wolfe confirms that she is cheating on him with a mechanic named Dylan (Luke Hemsworth). Complicating things are a dentist (Sullivan Stapleton), his ultra-controlling wife/receptionist (Teresa Palmer). Added to the mix is a crooked cop (Bryan Brown) who has his hand in every illegal action going on in the town.
In a creative bit of filmmaking, we are slowly exposed to each character’s story, seeing how everyone seems to be connected in town by either by trying to steal each other’s money or their spouses. It’s a big, complex con game that each character thinks has the winning hand but only a few will make their way out of the small town full of bad intentions and equally bad decisions.
The film is bolstered by an impressive cast led by Simon Pegg. Pegg, playing against his usual type, is a strong, forceful hit man that is cocksure and deliberate. Wearing sunglasses, a suit and driving around in a muscle car, it’s interesting that the film rarely uses Pegg’s flair for comic timing. Other cast members who stand out are Alice Braga, playing the unhappy but determined wife of Jack, who unlike most of the characters, seems to have at least a bit of a conscience. Teresa Palmer seems to have the most fun of the cast in her role of the wife of a weak-willed dentist Nathan. Of course, Brian Brown never disappoints, joyfully eating up the scenery as the cop that believes that everyone owes him a take of their ill-gotten gains.
The film is directed by Kriv Stenders, who directed the well-received 2007 Australian drama “Boxing Day.” “Kill Me Three Times” is taught in its quick and fast cuts by editor Jill Bilcock but is let down by Stenders direction and by a last-luster script from first-time screenwriter James McFarland. It’s a film that too quickly moves back and forth between hard drama and comedic moments that don’t always work. The movie never can find its tone, which is too bad because the premise is so darn good.
While the film starts very promising, it’s not as fun or inventive as it needs to be. The movie ends with too simple an ending, not as surprising as it should have been and never delivers the big outcome we would have liked. It’s an enjoyable ride with some excellent performances but ultimately, it’s a film that wants to be in the cinema vein of Tarantino or more recently Martin McDonagh’s “Seven Psychopaths” (2014) but never quite delivers the punch of those two filmmakers. My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
“Kill Me Three Times” is playing exclusively at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
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