A long shot of a sprawling desert home and BANG, a gunshot rings out. Cut to a close up of a man lying on the ground. Is he dead? But, no, the man, Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg) talks to us in voice over as he begins to tell the bizarrely twisted story of “Kill Me Three Times.”
Director Kriv Stenders and screenwriter James McFarland have crafted a multi-layered, funny tag-you’re-it tale of mayhem, deceit, fraud, blackmail and much more. The story is told in a series of flash backs and flash forwards as each of the three tales unfolds, with Charlie Wolfe playing a part in each.
The intricate story structure goes back and forth in timeframe to let each of the film’s chapters (Kill Me Once, Kill Me Twice…) tell the stories in a steady build that develops both the characters and the very dark comedy. This is the kind of clever filmmaking that is best seen cold, without knowing the story details going in. The quick-witted writing belies this being scribe McFarland’s first screenplay and director Stenders does a good job in keeping the twists and turns of the script in clear focus.
“Kill Me Three Times” is a true ensemble film that gives all of its many characters equal shrift in a comic book way, with Simon Pegg’s Charlie the glue that binds the stories. The humor is dark, but funny, too, making it a worthwhile piece of entertainment. I give it a B.
When Jack Taylor (Callan Mulvey, "Captain America: Winter Soldier") hires Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg, "Shaun of the Dead") to kill his wife Alice (Alice Braga, "Predators," "Elysium"), Charlie doesn't know he'll have so much competition - or be in so much danger - in "Kill Me Three Times."
This twisty little modern noir from "Red Dog" director Kriv Stenders and first time writer James McFarland has a bright, sunny look that's a comical contrast to its dark content, but that and Charlie's iconic Toronado are about its only calling cards. McFarland is going for a "Blood Simple," but despite an interestingly assembled cast and the unique location of Eagles Nest, Australia, Stenders' film is akin to watching someone move chess pieces around a board. There's little rooting interest in any of the characters, none of whom are good, bad or funny enough to raise the material above an exercise in plotting. The film also stars "Animal Kingdom's" Sullivan Stapleton as a hapless dentist, Teresa Palmer ("Warm Bodies") as his blue-eyed Lady Macbeth, Chris and Liam's older brother Luke Hemsworth as a love struck mechanic and veteran Aussie actor Bryan Brown ("Breaker Morant") as the town's corrupt sheriff.
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