Saturday, 28 November 2015

Movie Review: Kill Me Three Times (2015)



This might go down as one of the most bizarrely marketed films I’ve seen this year, and considering we “only just” had The Interview earlier in the year, that is saying a lot. Allow me to break down the sequence of events here: This film apparently had a cinematic release here in Australia. That makes sense; it’s an Aussie film and we’ll seemingly support any local production with a pulse these days. However, I say ‘apparently’ because I can find evidence of only one cinema that showed it, and even then it was a Q&A screening with the director in tow. Compare this to the marketing done for the DVD release, which got a colossal upgrade in terms of media attention. I have never seen a DVD release get so much cinema advert time, not to mention poster space, as this film. With this rather sporadic attempt to sell the film, and its currently abysmal approval ratings, I can only assume that this was all done as a hasty salvage operation to make sure it turned in a profit by any means necessary. Jai Courtney isn’t as big of a red flag for a film as that background. Well, let’s see if the Simon Pegg assist can rescue this film any, although I seriously kind of doubt it. This is Kill Me Three Times.

The plot: Charlie Wolf (Simon Pegg) is a professional hitman working in Australia. Over a few days, he plays a voyeuristic role in the unfolding conflict between bar owner Jack (Callan Mulvey), his sister Lucy (Teresa Palmer) and her husband Nathan (Sullivan Stapleton) plotting to eliminate Jack’s wife Alice (Alice Braga). As alliances are forged, crossed and double-crossed… ugh. You know what, I legitimately can’t be arsed to pretend to hype this film up; it’s THAT boring.

The acting sucks, plain and simple. Everyone feels stiff and unnatural, coming across like performances in a third-rate Underbelly rip-off with barely any of the charisma that made those shows work (usually). I say ‘barely’ because we have at least a couple of people willing to try and raise the subpar material on offer. One of them is from Bryan Brown as Sgt. Bruce, a police officer on Jack’s pay-roll, who seems to have a handle on how to do a shakedown and look intimidating while doing it. The other is, big surprise, from Simon Pegg. Sure, he’s pretty under-utilized and it takes until at least halfway through the film for him to unleash what he’s really capable of, but it’s nice to see him when he finally does. It’s cool seeing him as a far less reputable character this time around, and he can definitely pull off menace like he was made for it. He also seems to be the only one who’s in on how lame the overall film is and has fun playing the linchpin voyeur that ties everyone together.

The score is almost mind-numbing in how repetitive it is; Johnny Klimek needs to get nougied by Alan Silvestri for this one. Surf-rock guitar twangs with heavy reverb, alien whistles synths, licensed music that is jarring in comparison because of how it differs from the ‘original’ music; it’s almost ridiculous how monotonous all of these elements become within the film’s music. It doesn’t help that it all suffers from Young Chop syndrome and seem to be playing the exact same notes every time they’re used. With a few exceptions, the instrumental work is saved for the transitional shots of people driving and the dialogue scenes, again with the rare exception, are left silent. I’d even go so far as to say that monotony need not be a bad thing in it of itself; if these tracks were any good on their own, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with them. Then again, even if the music is pretty bad on its own merits, it suits the plodding tone of this film perfectly.

The writing is weak in the way that only amateur crime thrillers can manage. There are no characters to be found here, only people that plot-related stuff happens to, while the plot is the kind of non-linear crime mosaic that people directly lift from Tarantino’s early work. The problem with that is the same problem that every Tarantino clone seems to have: They forget that there’s a reason why his dialogue is so full of seemingly pointless tangents. Yeah, his characters talking about McDonald’s and Like A Virgin doesn’t have anything to do with the story at all, but it gives a better insight into the characters saying them. Here, there is literally nothing of the sort. No time is given for any kind of development of character, aside from who they are in relation to someone else. And even then, it’s through fairly blunt expository dialogue where people awkwardly announce what that relation is; “You’re my brother” and the like. It’s not easy to get invested in this kind of convoluted caper in the first place, but it’s even less so when we know next to nothing about the people it’s happening to. The film is about 84 minutes long excluding credits, and it’s hard to care about what’s going on for even that long.

All in all, this is straight up boring. Weak writing that focuses too much on the events and not the people they’re happening to, the acting doesn’t even try to be compelling or in any way engaging, save for Brown and Pegg, and the music is just about the laziest and most annoying I’ve heard all year… okay, save for Pan’s jukebox moments, but even then it was only a couple of isolated moments; here, it’s for the whole damn film. It’s worse than The Dressmaker, because despite how chaotic it was overall, I still find it easier to recommend to people than this film. However, because this film at least has Simon Pegg doing the best he can with the material he has, it only just fares better than The Last Witch Hunter. Regardless of how much you love the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, skip this one; not even Pegg can save this thing.

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