Kill Me Three Times, review: Simon Pegg is watchable but wasted in blood-splattered movie

Talent like this should have been given a few extra gags to work with

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The Independent Culture

Kill Me Three Times by filmmaker Kriv Stenders follows the manoeuvrings of a bunch of amoral characters in an otherwise heavenly coastal hamlet in Western Australia.

Suburban dentist Nathan (played by Sullivan Stapleton) and his wife Lucy (Teresa Palmer) plan to murder their sister-in-law Alice in an elaborate insurance scam. However, across town Alice (Alice Braga) plans to leave her crazed husband for a hunky mechanic.

Complicating things further are Simon Pegg, who wanders onto the scene as English hitman Charlie Wolfe, and Bryan Brown who plays a bent police officer in search of a quick buck.

The film proceeds to bring these threads together via three sub-stories (the “three times” of the title), a safe full of money, a loaded gun and a handy sledgehammer.

So is it a thriller? The elements are there: emotionless assassinations, a plot to murder a relative for money, a jealous husband and a steamy affair. Or is a comedy? All plans fall apart with slapstick abandon and the hitman is played by Simon Pegg for Christ’s sake!

Could it be that curious hybrid, a comedy-thriller? The thing is, viewers are likely to sit through the whole film and never quite know.

Just when you think you are watching something funny (such as Simon Pegg in full assassin mode, about to finish off a victim when his mobile phone annoyingly rings) you are confronted with something desperately unfunny (a gruesome killing with slow-motion shots of blood spewing from gunshot wounds).

The result is that both elements wipe each other out and you wish the scriptwriter could have just made his mind up and taken the film in one direction.

Where the film does succeed is in its division of the film into segments, each revealing more about the previous part before throwing more complications into the mix.

But one feels that Stenders tried to create an Australian version of a Quentin Tarantino film while forgetting to add the snappy dialogue or the colourful characters. In a film in which every character is involved in some form of deceit or intrigue, it’s surprising how little you can care about any of them.

The only exceptions are the characters played by Simon Pegg and Bryan Brown, both of whom are eminently watchable, whatever they do. But honestly, talents like these should have been given a few extra gags to work with.