Review: Kill Me Three Times

2015/03/27 14:10:31 +00:00 | Patrick Bromley

There is good news and bad news about Kriv Stenders’ neo-noir film Kill Me Three Times. The good news is that it’s fun to see Simon Pegg enjoying himself as a real scumbag of a hitman. The bad news is that if you’ve seen a handful of crime movies in the last 20 years, you’ve already seen most of what Kill Me Three Times has to offer.

Simon Pegg plays Charlie Wolfe, a contract killer we meet as he chases down and executes some poor sap in the desert. He’s hired to take out Alice (Alice Braga, Predators) for reasons not made clear at first, but when he shows up to do the job he discovers that she’s already been rubbed out by married dentists Nathan (Sullivan Stapleton, 300: Rise of an Empire) and Lucy (Theresa Palmer, Warm Bodies). They’re looking to cash in an insurance claim to pay off Nathan’s huge gambling debts before dirty cop Bruce Jones (Bryan Brown) comes around to collect…or worse. Throw in Callan Mulvey (Miss Meadows) as Alice’s husband and Luke Hemsworth (The Anomaly) as her lover and you’ve got a whole lot of people wanting to do a whole lot of bad things to one another for a whole lot of money.

On its face, there’s nothing particularly wrong with Kill Me Three Times. Stenders and his cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson shoot the Australian locations for maximum gorgeousness, the cast is game, the violence balanced out by the gallows humor. It is a serviceable dark comedy. Its main problem is that it is far too reminiscent of at least a dozen other similar films released in the wake of Pulp Fiction back in the mid-‘90s. Had Kill Me Three Times come out in, say, 1998, the conversation around it would be totally different. Coming as it does in 2015, it just feels like a well made copy of a copy.

Pegg is fun because Pegg is always fun; he’s built up enough goodwill among the genre fan base that we’ll follow him down detours like this one. What his performance as an unscrupulous, irredeemable assassin demonstrates is that it takes only a few small tweaks to his usual onscreen persona (aided here by a black dye job and handlebar mustache — no hero would boast such facial hair!) to turn those qualities for which we usually love him into something sinister. It’s also great to see Bryan Brown back on screen, as he registers more in just a few scenes than the majority of the cast does in the entirety of the film. Perhaps it’s because only Pegg and Brown recognize that for material like this to work, they’ve can’t be afraid to get really nasty. Or perhaps it’s because they’re the only ones capable of getting that dark.

The pieces are in place for Kill Me Three Times to be a serviceable black comedy and the Australians certainly know their way around good neo-noir. Unfortunately, the screenplay by James McFarland (his first produced) is too derivative to stand on its own — to view it is to keep a mental checklist of all the films in which we’ve previously encountered these same tropes. It’s an echo of a movie, more The Big Bounce than Jackie Brown and more 2 Days in the Valley than Blood Simple.

Movie Score: 2.5/5

  • Patrick Bromley
    About the Author - Patrick Bromley

    Patrick lives in Chicago, where he has been writing about film since 2004. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society, Patrick's writing also appears on, and, the site he runs and hosts a weekly podcast.

    He has been an obsessive fan of horror and genre films his entire life, watching, re-watching and studying everything from the Universal Monsters of the '30s and '40s to the modern explosion of indie horror. Some of his favorites include Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1931), Dawn of the Dead (1978), John Carpenter's The Thing and The Funhouse. He is a lover of Tobe Hooper and his favorite Halloween film is part 4. He knows how you feel about that. He has a great wife and two cool kids, who he hopes to raise as horror nerds.