Including comedic tones in violent films is not all that uncommon. When done correctly, even the most gruesome, gory death can illicit mass guffaws. It all depends on stylization and timing. It also requires an intricately woven story to balance the two opposing forces, and aptly developed characters to bring everything to life. Unfortunately, Kill Me Three Times is not that kind of film.
Alice (Alice Braga) is going about her daily routine, when her abusive husband Jack (Callan Mulvey) senses something is wrong. With some coercion from his sister Lucy (Teresa Palmer), he decides to contact a “specialist”, Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg), to have her followed. Alice, as she usually does, goes to visit the man she is cheating on her husband with, Dylan (Luke Hemsworth). Wolfe records everything on camera and Jack hires him to kill his wife. Unfortunately for Alice, Jack and Wolfe aren’t the only people trying to kill her. Lucy and her husband, swimming in gambling debt, hatch a plan to kill Alice, switch Lucy’s dental records with her, and fake her death for insurance. Alice has a plan of her own, planning to run away with Dylan, so she steals all the money in Jack’s case. Alice might be dead thrice over, but this film arrived dead on arrival.
This film is full of missed opportunities, regrets, and bad decisions, and I’m not just talking about the characters in this half-cocked story. The story suffers from a conflux of narratives, each unstably stacking on top of each other until you get a tiered wreck. The entire cast is squandered as they endeavor to go through the motions and make it through this banal calamity. Even the genres seemed muddled, trying to be a mystery and suspense film, by being too predictable to keep up with any intrigue or uncertainty. The odd part is that this film feels like it’s courting comedy, but never really lands any punchlines. Which is a shame really, because if the film had gone all out assassin spoof, it would have faired better, especially where some of the cast is concerned.
The biggest asset, whichever direction this film would have chosen to go, was undoubtedly Simon Pegg. Instead, this film chose to take its A-list talent and relegate him to tertiary character status. Pegg, equipped with his natural comedic charm and a handle-bar mustache, goes into this film basically disarmed due to the lack of character development. Even his signature smirk, usually following a joke, loses its charm when nothing of any importance or humorous happens. This film is one Edgar Wright short of making it a sibling entry into the Cornetto Trilogy canon.
Kill Me Three Times killed any chance for success when it decided to use its potentially greatest saving grace as a fringe character (both in the marginalized sense and the decorative one). That alone made the rest of the cast overkill. We don’t need and probably wouldn’t be able to handle the film three times. Most of us barely made it through the first.
RATING: ★★(2/10 stars)