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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

Af­ter the hit Red Dog, Aus­tralian di­rec­tor Kriv Sten­ders as­sem­bled Si­mon Pegg, Teresa Palmer, Sul­li­van Sta­ple­ton and Bryan Brown, among oth­ers, for his next film. What did it lead to? The mis­fir­ing crime caper Kill Me Three Times.

There’s a bit to like about the film, par­tic­u­larly its sweeps through glo­ri­ous West Aus­tralia vis­tas. But the film’s rel­a­tive lack of suc­cess — it had a mi­nor the­atri­cal run here and over­seas, be­fore a quick dig­i­tal and now home en­ter­tain­ment re­lease — says more about the Aus­tralian ap­petite for genre films (of lack thereof) than any­thing else.

Aus­tralia just doesn’t em­brace them. Just last year we picked a hor­ror movie, The Babadook, as best film of the year and saw it win au­di­ences and ac­claim over­seas, but it didn’t register with au­di­ences here.

And in the light crime genre, we’ve made some rip­pers, in­clud­ing Get­tin’ Square and Dirty Deeds, but they haven’t hit big. Five years ago, we thought genre films were the ac­ces­si­ble way into the world be­cause we could make them with Aus­tralian bud­gets and in­ter­na­tional as­pi­ra­tions. That’s true to a point; but they fail to register at home.

Kill Me Three Times (MA15+, eOne, 90min, $24.99) isn’t as ef­fec­tive as the ones named above, largely be­cause it seems de­riv­a­tive, par­tic­u­larly of Quentin Tarantino. And of all the film­mak­ers likely to ex­ert an in­flu­ence, he is prob­a­bly the worst, be­cause he hoovers up all cin­ema be­fore him. Your Tarantino homage is, by def­i­ni­tion, re­dun­dant.

In Kill Me Three Times, Brit com­edy star Pegg stars as Char­lie Wolfe, a mous­ta­chioed as­sas­sin whom, de­spite his black garb, you al­ways ex­pect to do some­thing comedic. Pegg’s de­sire to play a vil­lain is un­der­stand­able but he has quite the screen stereo­type to crack. And Kill Me Three Times doesn’t help be­cause it wants to be a straight thriller with a bit of com­edy, so it’s invit­ing you to be­lieve he will be the co­me­dian, not the killer. The film’s com­edy (such as it is) is the con­trast of the ba­nal with the bru­tal, the hum­drum with the hor­ror, which Tarantino does so well. But it’s not par­tic­u­larly witty.

The film opens with Char­lie go­ing through the mo­tions of another hit, be­fore be­com­ing some­thing of a bit player as the drama un­folds of an in­sur­ance scam in­volv­ing Alice Braga’s vic­tim char­ac­ter, her sis­ter-in-law (Palmer, one of the film’s bright spots) and her hus­band (the un­der­utilised Sta­ple­ton).

Flash­backs fill in some plot gaps and char­ac­ters roll in and out as regularly as the wide shots of nu­mer­ous cars cruis­ing along the WA coast. Which is fine, be­cause Western Aus­tralia is the film’s best char­ac­ter. I could ig­nore the thin char­ac­ter­i­sa­tions and pedes­trian plot points in James McFar­land’s script when tak­ing in the lo­ca­tions.

Kill Me Three Times isn’t The Tru­man Show. It’s not even Get­tin’ Square, as it doesn’t fully com­mit to its com­edy and isn’t dra­matic enough with its crime. It pos­sesses some nice com­po­nents, but it’s ei­ther all in or it’s a mess.

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