The affectionate humanism that typically laces Simon Pegg’s postmodern self-awareness, especially in his collaborations with Edgar Wright, is missing from Kriv Stenders’s winking Kill Me Three Times, which stars the actor as Charlie Wolfe, a veteran hitman who becomes mixed up in two interlocking crimes. Shady bar owner Jack (Callan Mulvey) hires Wolfe to kill his wife, Alice (Alice Braga), after discovering she’s been having an affair, and as Wolfe tails his target, he eventually stumbles upon an insurance scheme concocted by Jack’s sister, Lucy (Teresa Palmer). As a complement to Wolfe’s outsized personality, the film is eccentrically told in three nonlinear segments, but the tongue-in-cheek aspects of the story, which Stenders uses as a means of upending convention, feel like distractions from how frequently the film embraces archetype and unchecked indecency. Kill Me Three Times, chockablock with bloody, hyper-stylized shootouts and brutal fistfights, never stops to ponder the ethical repercussions of its characters’ noxious behaviors. The film seems to imply that even the most ostensibly good-natured people are capable of heinous violence and still go on living as if nothing ever happened, which is what occurs when Alice’s level-headed lover, Dylan (Luke Hemsworth), viciously kills not one, but two characters. But the film’s ultimate failure is Stenders’s bungling of the story’s tone, which waffles between the comic and the severe. With awkwardly blocked physical-comedy bits and melodramatic confrontations that border on monotony, the filmmaker proves to be ill-fitted in either tenor. As Wolfe spends a lot of time observing and lampooning his targets as they haplessly bungle through their crimes, the character’s diegetic self-awareness can easily be recontextualized to comment on the film itself.
- Magnolia Pictures
- 90 min
- Kriv Stenders
- James McFarland
- Simon Pegg, Alice Braga, Teresa Palmer, Luke Hemsworth, Sullivan Stapleton, Callan Mulvey, Bryan Brown
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