– by David Morgan-Brown
As opposed to the string of dark and depressing films we can usually expect from Australian cinema, Kill Me Three Times (from Red Dog director Kriv Stenders) wants to be one of the more fun romps of the year to come from this country – with its James Bond-esque opening credits, its espionage story, its double and triple crossing characters, its surfer rock music, and playful twisting of how it reveals its storyline all serve the fun in this film. Though what’s sorely missing in this comedy is the humour – Kill Me Three Times clearly doesn’t want to keep up the jokes and comedy throughout its entirety, only partially.
The film starts off at the end, with professional hitman Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg) left for dead. Most audience members are going to wish the film continued with him, as he’s one of the only entertaining aspects of this film, but we can’t always get what we want. Through narrative flashbacks and different perspectives (broken up into three different acts – Kill Me Once, Kill Me Twice, and Kill Me Three Times), we discover a plot by dentist Nathan (Sullivan Stapleton) and his receptionist Lucy (Teresa Palmer) to assassinate Alice (Alice Braga), which Charlie watches with amusement as he was hired by Alice’s husband Jack (Callan Mulvey) to kill her. Things get even more confusing and contrived from here, enhanced by the non-linear divulging of the rest of the storyline.
The film has at least four or five really funny and perfectly executed jokes that work wonderfully. However, most comedy film have to rely on more than that to keep the humour of the film consistent, even if it means simply injecting the story-progressing dialogue with a small amount of humour in between big gags. So it’s unfortunate that parts of Kill Me Three Times suggest it keeps forgetting it’s a comedy. Most of the funniest scenes in the film of course come from Simon Pegg, but the moments of establishing and explaining this twisted storyline are portrayed with such bluntness and dullness, it’s as if the film has dropped one of the only genres it was going for.
The storyline is so convoluted and so all over the place, further enhanced by the very non-linear narrative, that I soon just gave up and accepted the fun of getting lost in this ridiculous plot. There’s not a whole lot of ingenuity to the way this story unfolds and backtracks and shows different perspectives (Tarantino and his imitators have done it better), but at least the movie would’ve been even more boring if it had been played out straight.
There’s close to half a film worth watching here, with some of the big jokes and the more awe-inspiring parts of the story to keep people entertained and interested, but the other half is with so little emotion or style that it just blandly feeds the audience its silly crime story. A reworking on the script from an Aussie funnyman to amp up the comedy and jokes might’ve elevated this to being one of the best Australian comedy films in recent years. Instead, it’s a missed opportunity.
Available on Digital, Blu-Ray & DVD from 9 September.