Can a single guitar riff tell you everything you need to know about a movie? The dreadful Kill Me Three Times, which has nothing to offer beyond some aerial looks at the white-and-turquoise beaches of Western Australia, opens with a power chord so cheesy and generic that it immediately identifies this story of amateur criminals as the charmless ’90s throwback that it is. Capable of extinguishing whatever nostalgia you might have for the decade, Kriv Stenders’s film is unashamed to resurrect the laziest tropes of the Tarantino rip-offs that once clogged the shelves of every Blockbuster in the land.
A rotten husk of pulp fiction, it starts by introducing a snarky assassin (Simon Pegg), because of course it does. He’s narrating his own death, because of course he is. And the film spends the 90 minutes that follow working back to this moment through a needlessly complex trio of nested flashbacks, because of course it must. Along the way, we’re introduced to a gaggle of rural idiots who are willing to do whatever it takes to get their hands on a sack of cash. There’s an oafish mechanic (Luke Hemsworth), the woman he’s sleeping with (Alice Braga), her jealous husband (Callan Mulvey), their dentist (Sullivan Stapleton) and his diabolical wife (Teresa Palmer). None of them are innocent, and none of them know what they’re doing, although Pegg—who prowls the periphery of the story, dropping in from time to time like the angel of death—plays such a walking pastiche of hit-man clichés that he at least looks the part.
Palmer’s femme fatale proves to be the only wrinkle in this reheated mess, the seductress turning every man on the continent into her personal plaything. Stenders, however, makes sure to iron out the kink, his “dark” comedy deathly afraid of doing anything to upset the moral order. For a sordid tale of murder and mayhem, Kill Me Three Times couldn’t be more mundane.
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