Published Sep 09, 2014While another TIFF feature may have found Simon Pegg searching for happiness by travelling around the globe, Kill Me Three Times — the new black comedy/thriller from director Kriv Stenders — has him finding it down the barrel of a gun in the Australian outback.
A charming caper in both subject matter and execution, Kill Me Three Times concerns Charlie Wolfe (played by Pegg), a gun for hire who gets mixed up in a nefarious plot involving the murder of a local woman named Alice Taylor (played by Alice Braga). Whether it's the town's gambling-obsessed dentist (Sullivan Stapleton), his secret lover (Teresa Palmer) or the owner of a local watering hole (a creepy Callan Mulvey), it appears everyone is out to get Alice (save for her hunky beach bum boyfriend, Luke Hemsworth). That's where Wolfe comes in. A moustache-sporting two-timer with the fashion sense and swagger of a late-era Nick Cave, Wolfe takes on the job of assassinating Taylor to earn some extra bucks, but soon finds out his one-time job is far more complicated than it first appeared.
Told through an unfolding narrative that puts Pegg's character at the base of each separate storyline (although he only shares screen time for a few parts of each), Kill Me Three Times evokes the neo-noir styling of a picture like Pulp Fiction, but is far more playful thanks to its simple settings and all-around light-hearted approach. That's good news for fans of Pegg and his more popular work in the Cornetto Trilogy; although he's essentially playing a villain here, his role more closely resembles the tomfoolery and rambunctiousness of a pre-apocalypse Gary King (minus the crippling alcoholism). And even though he remains missing for large chunks of the film, the simple premise and minimalist approach to each shot gives Pegg ample space to chew the scenery.
Although entertaining, there's not much in this feature that would require repeat views. By the film's end, everything is tied up in a tight little bow, with no loose ends or straying storylines. That's obviously Stenders' intention, as this picture acts like more of a perfectly encapsulated piece than a traditional, bawdy comedy. Still, it's hard not to imagine Kill Me Three Times as a late-night staple on television than the drive-in-ready classics it seems to be inspired by. That's not necessarily a bad thing; if anything, it's probably exactly where this film wants to be. (WME)