Kill Me Once! Opening with the protracted and complicated murder of Alice (Alice Braga), the Australian hitman comedy, Kill Me Three Times sets the table without explaining the players involved or the motives behind their actions. The culprits are a dentist with a gambling problem, Nathan (Sullivan Stapleton), and his assistant/wife, Lucy (Teresa Palmer). Only, they aren’t just murdering Alice; they’re switching her dental records with Lucy’s and framing the murder to look like an accident. Too bad they aren’t very good at it. Murder is something you should leave to the professionals, like Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg) hiding in the bushes, watching the whole thing going down.
But what is Charlie doing there? What kind of scam are Nathan and Lucy running? And what did poor Alice do to deserve such treatment? That is when Kill Me Twice! comes in. Jumping back a couple of weeks or so, the movie’s second act sets up the characters, their relationships, and their problems—which turns out to be a sizeable amount for this small group. A few more players are introduced, an alcoholic and abusive bar owner played by Callan Mulvey and a hunky mechanic played by Luke Hemsworth, both complicating already complex relationships of deceit and backstabbing.
However, as complex as these relationships are, they are equally simplistic, making Kill Me Twice! feel over-bloated and longer than necessary. None of the actors in Kill Me Three Times (save Pegg) are compelling enough to convey complicated emotions. Their general body language and reliance on trite clichés give the audience all the information they need, which isn’t much. Neither director Kriv Stenders nor screenwriter James McFarland seem that concerned with providing relevant and illuminating information or developing characters behind their one-dimensional motivations. Instead, they slap together a series of dynamics so they can hurdle the movie into…
Kill Me Three Times! Taking up 40 minutes of the movie and embracing the comedic aspects of the story, the third act piles double-crosses and twists on top of one another while racking up one hell of a body count. Here is where Stenders and McFarland indulge their more sadistic side and show that not only is everyone corrupt or corruptible, they also bleed quite profusely and spectacularly.
Shot in picturesque Western Australia, Kill Me Three Times is just enough off the beaten path to make for an enjoyable experience. Neither fresh nor new, Kill Me Three Times does allow for Pegg’s comic timing and exasperation to shine. Maybe that’s not much, but it’s enough to breathe life into this otherwise bland neo-noir.
Kill Me Three Times (2014)
Directed by: Kriv Stenders
Written by: James McFarland
Produced by: Tania Chambers, Laurence Malkin, Share Stallings
Starring: Simon Pegg, Teresa Palmer, Sullivan Stapleton, Alice Braga, Callan Mulvey, Luke Hemsworth
Magnet Releasing, Rated R, Running time 95 minutes, Opens April 10, 2015.