Kill Me Three Times
“Kill Me Three Times” is the kind of thriller found for 50 cents at a garage sale, read once on a plane or beach and then promptly forgotten about. The story is filled with preordained double-crosses and unfortunate coincidences. But like the by-the-numbers novels of James Patterson or Lee Child (Alex Cross and Jack Reacher, respectively), the movie is grounded by a compelling central character — in this case assassin / P.I. Charlie Wolf (Simon Pegg). He elevates “Kill Me Three Times” from standard crime fiction to an enjoyable entry into the genre.
This adventure finds Wolf in Western Australia investigating the local bartender’s infidelitous wife Alice (Alice Braga). When he gets video of her with the local mechanic Dylan (Luke Hemsworth), her husband Jack (Callan Mulvey) orders a hit. Unfortunately, a lowlife dentist and his wife (Sullivan Stapleton and Teresa Palmer) already have their eyes on Alice as a spare body for insurance fraud. So they kill her once. And, er, again. And maybe a third time.
Like Wolf bemoans: “This place is like an open-air insane asylum.”
The best decision director Kriv Stenders made was to cast Simon Pegg and point a camera at him. It’s hard not to ramble on and on about how likable Pegg is as a villain. The genre star has played good guys for most of his career. His heel turn is most welcomed. Watching Pegg play stoic is like watching a clown cry. You laugh despite yourself. He’s blowing people up, shooting them in the head and you still chuckle, “Oh, Simon.” An entire series of Charlie Wolf walking through procedural stories like “Kill Me Three Times” would be O.K. It’s a character Pegg should take with him.
Stenders doesn’t have a particularly distinct visual style, which doesn’t really add or detract from the procedural process of a crime novel. He isn’t boring; he isn’t dazzling. To Stenders’ credit, the movie only runs 90 minutes. He doesn’t show off. He does his job. There are no pretensions of being anything but a simple thriller story. It is what it is.
“Kill Me Three Times” is worth watching for Pegg. But don’t watch it expecting “Hot Fuzz,” “The World’s End” or, God forbid, “Paul.” It’s more in line with thrillers and murder mysteries, with a welcomed guest appearance by the star of those other films.