Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Bloody Violence, Language and some Sexuality/Nudity
Directed by: Kriv Stenders
Written by: James McFarland
Starring: Simon Pegg, Alice Braga, Callan Mulvey, Teresa Palmer, Sullivan Stapleton, Luke Hemsworth & Bryan Brown
Simon Pegg plays a hitman. That one sentence alone might sell you on seeing this film. KILL ME THREE TIMES is an Australian crime-comedy that is being sold as a sort of anthology film, but it’s really not that at all. Instead, this movie plays out like a Guy Ritchie crime-comedy mixed with a Tarantino dark sense of humor, but it’s not nearly at the level of both of those filmmakers. KILL ME THREE TIMES is too tongue-in-cheek and forced on occasion, but should satisfy those who want to kick back and kill some time with a goofy flick that doesn’t have a shred of originality to it.
Charlie Wolfe is a cheeky gun-for-hire whose latest assignment is Alice, the abused, unfaithful wife of a powerful man. What should have been a fairly routine job turns into something else entirely as Charlie discovers that he’s not the only one in town who wants this woman dead. A dentist and his conniving wife/secretary also enact a plan to kill Alice for some unknown reason. As Charlie’s mission, motivations, and objectives all fly off the rails, the whole job turns into a plot full of double-crossing, explosions, blackmail and blood. Think a more over-the-top, humorous take on BLOOD SIMPLE and you’ve pretty much got this movie in a nutshell.
KILL ME THREE TIMES kept me interested in the plot. Even though it isn’t original at all, the screenplay twists and turns in enjoyable ways that actually surprised me during a couple of scenes. Some plot revelations are a little too far-fetched, but not to an annoying level. There’s far more violence than I was actually expecting going into this film (which is a plus) and a handful of really clever jokes that did get me laughing. The funniest of which is probably be a severe scenario of wrong place, wrong time with a shady cop. Out of all the actors in this movie, Simon Pegg is easily the best as Charlie Wolfe. This was clearly an easy paycheck for him, but Pegg seems to be having fun as a sarcastic asshole hitman. The rest of the cast members aren’t bad, but their characters are certainly overly familiar. There’s the crooked cop, the wimpy would-be murderer, said wimp’s conniving wife, the innocent battered housewife, and so and so forth. I can’t really fault any of the performers for not adding fresh blood to these age-old character tropes, because the cast really didn’t have that much to work with in the first place.
The lack of originality is really this film’s biggest problem. I’ve seen this exact same plot, comical tone, and convoluted screenplay all before and done by better filmmakers. There’s a wannabe Tarantino tone to the whole film that seems forced. The first 15 minutes also take a little while to get into. The film acts as if there’s this anthology structure to the whole script, but there isn’t. It’s the same sort of blended storyline approach that Guy Ritchie used in films like LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS, SNATCH and ROCKNROLLA. There’s not a separate beginning or ending to any of these supposed three stories, so why did the film use title cards indicating there was? These are complete with the labels “Kill Me Once,” “Kill Me Twice,” and of course, “Kill Me Three Times.” That structure doesn’t fit well and becomes an all-out distraction as if the movie is announcing how much time it has left (a title card appears about every 30 minutes). This creative decision feels messy and unfocused.
Though it’s overly derivative without a single original bone in its body, KILL ME THREE TIMES is fun considering that you take it as an okay time killer. Simon Pegg is funny as Wolfe. The rest of the cast members do the best they can to bring their stereotyped crime movie clichés posing as characters to life. The jokes mostly hit their marks and there is entertainment to be found here. The would-be anthology structure does get distracting, but there’s enough good to satisfy fans of silly crime-comedies. You should know by now whether this film is up your alley or not.