MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Kill Me Three Times’

Kill-Me-Three-Times-Review

Film: Kill Me Three Times
Directed by: Kriv Stenders
Starring: Simon Pegg, Alice Braga, Teresa Palmer

Just based on the conception of an idea for a film, people are going to start relating it to past cinematic efforts. On the other hand, some ideas borrow so much from others that they end up trying harder to serve their inspirations instead of an audience. People fuck, cheat, shoot, extort, and blackmail in Kill Me Three Times, an homage to violent ensemble pieces where multiple vignettes come colliding at frenzied moments. Sounds a bit like Pulp Fiction, right? That’s because it mostly tries to be in that same vein. What this one doesn’t have is interesting characters to carry out the most primal of actions. It doesn’t have a sense of surprise either. Oh, and really forced music cues. You know what, let’s just say that there isn’t many redeemable qualities here.

Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg) is a vulgar hit man hired to kill Jack Taylor’s (300: Rise of an Empire’s Callan Mulvey) wife, Alice (I Am Legend’s Alice Braga). Nathan Webb (Animal Kingdom’s Sullivan Stapleton) and his wife Lucy (Warm Bodies’ Teresa Palmer) are trying their hardest to settle their debt with the deadly dirty cop, Bruce Jones (Breaker Morant’s Bryan Brown). Dylan Smith (Luke Hemsworth) is also in romantic cahoots with Alice. All of these people collide at differing times, naturally.

With violent ensemble pictures like this, you end up caring a lot about the people that occupy the narrative. Every vignette in this is split up by a repeating title card: “Kill Me Once,” “Kill Me Twice,” and so on. As you may have guessed it, someone dies at the end of each chapter. Revelations are abounding once the last chapter has begun, things have gotten a bit more complicated than they started out as.

As is with every convoluted storyline, is there enough meat on these characters to warrant any interest in how they pan out? No, not really. All of the characters that occupy this seaside community in Australia have a singular vision – none of them are dynamic, there’s no room for them to grow from any of their experiences. Charlie Wolfe is a narcissist bent on getting the most money possible. He’s also not a very good hit man, even with some gadgets at his disposal. Pegg’s boyish humor doesn’t carry over at all into this thinly veiled shadow of another quirky hit man character. Jack Taylor is an abusive husband who doesn’t trust his wife. Okay, can we get some context into why this may be? Nope.

Alice wants to stay alive; simple enough. Nathan and Lucy are two dopes in deep with the wrong man. Do we know why? Nope. Will anyone end up caring? Probably not. Bruce Jones is just a mean cop who wants money. All of these people could have their gender changed and it wouldn’t change an inkling of the story. The best thing about ensemble pieces is finding out what makes these people tick. What will push them to lengths that they haven’t gone to before? What little idiosyncrasies do these people possess that makes them indiscernible from the next person? Nothing, they are all forgettable tropes driven by a lack of craft.

Not to mention that all of the comedy falls flat. There are no quirky one-liners from Pegg’s hit man. He doesn’t earn the reputation and physical appearance he gives off, especially with a semi-twirling moustache. Like a Sergio Leone character that doesn’t deserve a six-shooter, Pegg’s presence will draw you into watching the movie. It won’t make you stay, though. First time feature writer James McFarland has a lot to grow from this. He knows how most violent plots carry themselves out nowadays. Now, change it up.

Kriv Stenders is just another director in a long line that doesn’t feel gripped or inspired by the material he’s working with. The insipid landscape shots of Australia’s beautiful coastline that introduces every chapter don’t reflect the dour nature of the story. The juxtaposition of sunny environments never matches up with the material, especially since there is no comedy to denote something more playful than a go-here-and-shoot-there plot. Props go out to Stender’s use of blood squibs here, though. Always a nice surprise to see a proper blood squirt after too many lame PG-13 tempered wounds.

Kill Me Three Times tries and fails to deviate from the crowd of films inspired by violent ensemble pieces like Pulp Fiction and Natural Born Killers. Even with Pegg, everything between character motivations and interesting story are threadbare here. It’s too bad, cinema is always in need of fresh voices.

GRADE: D

Review written by Sam Cohen (follow him on Twitter!)

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
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