Kill Me Three Times

Australian director Kriv Stenders has described his own dark comedy thriller as a cross between Blood Simple and Rashomon, and if this movie has one thing going for it, it’s delusional confidence. Hardly the shining alloy of earlier touchstones that Stenders supposes, it’s more like a tarnished relic from some time capsule buried during the grim Tarantino-wannabe wars of the mid-1990s: all muscle cars and glib gunmen and nonlinear, non-interesting storylines. A postcard from sun-soaked western Australia, where incompetent criminals while away their days double-crossing each other and lighting their Zippos in slow motion, James McFarland’s script supplies a twisty slog for stars Teresa Palmer, Luke Hemsworth, Alice Braga, and Simon Pegg. In a way, Pegg’s presence is the greatest disappointment here, as a) there’s not enough of it, and b) what little there is sets up an apparently unfair expectation of real humor and charisma. Stenders adds gloss and a soundtrack full of generic guitar twang, but that just makes the movie even more of a drag. Cravenly chasing as wide an international audience as possible, Kill Me Three Times just isn’t novel or outrageous enough. This is wrung-out neo-noir with no true blackness left intact, like a soggy heap of faded laundry.