Rated R | Time: 1:30
Simon Pegg as a hapless hit man sounds like a fantastic, if counterintuitive, idea. But “Kill Me Three Times,” in which the British comic actor — famous for geeky good-guy roles — portrays an assassin-for-hire, is anything but fantastic.
Mainly that’s because Pegg is hardly in the thing.
Set in an Australian beach town outside Perth, the black comedy by first-time screenwriter James McFarland centers mostly on an insurance scam by put-upon dentist Nathan Webb (Sullivan Stapleton) and his bossy wife, Lucy (Kate McKinnon lookalike Teresa Palmer).
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The Webbs are trying to fake Lucy’s death by murdering her sister-in-law (Alice Braga), an unhappy spouse who is cheating on Lucy’s brother (Callan Mulvey) with the local auto mechanic (Luke Hemsworth, the funny-looking brother), and then switching their dental records.
It’s all pretty confusing, especially the way the film jumps around in time. After an opening scene in which Pegg’s Charlie Wolfe is shown killing an anonymous victim who has nothing to do with the rest of the story, the actor is given precious little to occupy his time except to watch the shenanigans from the bushes. Despite some phony contempo-noir overtones that seem to have been stolen from a dumpster once shared by Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers, there’s no real mystery here, other than the waste of talent.
Pegg is actually kind of funny in his scenes. There just aren’t enough of them.
The director of this mess is Kriv Stenders, which despite being an anagram for Rev. D.S. Stinker, is actually the name of a real person. Stenders’ previous film, the family-friendly “Red Dog,” was nominated for several Australian Film Institute Awards (aka the Aussie Oscars), winning two of them.
If you’re looking for a movie about a charming reprobate starring someone cast against type, rent “Dom Hemingway” with Jude Law. Although “Kill Me Three Times” includes a few murders, it does nothing to justify its title. Mostly, it just shoots itself in the foot, over and over.
| Michael O’Sullivan
The Washington Post