We open with Charlie Wolfe (Pegg), a smooth, no-nonsense, foul-mouthed hitman with a ‘70s pornstache, lamenting the fact that he’s just been killed by—well, to find that out, we need to flash back to earlier in the story.
After this opening, the film is divided into three sections: Kill Me Once; Kill Me Twice; and, of course, Kill Me Three Times. Each section relays the same story from a different point of view. First up is Nathan Webb (Sullivan Stapleton), a dentist in a small town in Australia, and his wife/assistant Lucy (Teresa Palmer), plotting and then (rather awkwardly) executing the murder of one of their female patients, Alice (Alice Braga).
The plan is to switch Alice’s dental records with Lucy’s, so as to collect on a life insurance policy in the latter’s name. Lucy has everything planned to the last detail, but as Nathan tries to carry it out, the whole thing turns into a comedy of errors. His car spins out and gets a flat tire on the way to the crime scene. He can’t get enough gas to torch the evidence without arousing suspicion. And, of course, the drugs they use on Alice wear off before they’re ready to kill/dispose of her, and they end up having to chase her down. Meanwhile, every step of the way, they’re being followed, watched, and photographed by Charlie Wolfe.
In the second section, we see things from Alice’s point of view: who she is; how she got mixed up in all of this murder business; and what rotten luck led her to visit the dentist on that particular day. Then, the third section shows us the aftermath of the murder, as more and more money begins to enter the picture, and more and more people begin showing up, wanting a piece of it.
As each section slowly illuminates more of the bigger picture, we see more twists and turns in the plot. Every character is important, every character has something to hide, everything is connected, and nothing is what it seems. This kind of plot can be dangerous territory. Any number of movies, particularly dark comedies for some reason, have relied on “twists” that make little-to-no sense and are pulled completely out of thin air. Fortunately, Kill Me Three Times does not suffer from that setback. Everything makes sense, and every new revelation drives the plot.
It also helps that the movie is very funny in parts and also balances the comedy/thriller aspects quite well. Stapleton is great as he tries in vain to get this whole murder thing right, and Palmer plays off him well in a “Why can’t you do anything right?” capacity. On the other end of the spectrum, though, are Callan Mulvey, who’s thoroughly despicable as Alice’s abusive, psychopathic husband, and Bryan Brown, who’s downright frightening as a corrupt, small-town sheriff. Whether serious or silly, everyone in the cast is very talented and capable.
The standout performance, though, is, of course, Simon Pegg. The movie proves to be much more than just a vehicle for Pegg, but his presence is still a great asset to it. Charlie Wolfe is the character you love to hate: cold; calculating; with an offhanded disdain for the people around him—but at the same time, awesome at what he does, and just so darned fun to watch. He’s clearly having a great time in the role, and it makes the movie as a whole more fun, as well.
All in all, this is an unexpectedly fun and interesting, little film. If you’re a fan of dark comedies, well-plotted crime thrillers, or just want to see Simon Pegg as a pornstachioed hitman, then Kill Me Three Times is the movie for you.
Kill Me Three Times will be available on March 26 on Ultra VOD, and April 10 in theaters.