Kill Me Three Times (Kriv Stenders, 2015)

Flat on his back and on the brink of death, gun-for-hire Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg) weaves us through three vignettes that shed light on what landed him in said predicament. As key players are introduced and evolve by way of unveiled roles and motives, the plot invariably thickens for all involved as tides twist and turn. Soon it all comes down to whose will prevail amid conspiracy, love triangles and a general heap of lackluster exposition.

Exuding a vapidity characteristic of its own foul self, Kill Me Three Times is as innocuous and familiar as they come. Trying but failing to emulate its much slicker action comedy inspirations, the fact that the film’s opening moments fail to grab you should serve as an ample enough indicator of things to come. One-dimensionality plays heavily into this via steadily employed tropes, of which consist of semi-sprawling interconnectivity between events and individuals that play into some very basic, not-at-all-groundbreaking reveals.

If this is all reading a bit vague, it’s because the film’s obvious shortcomings allow for the tiniest of spoilers to spoil entire thirds of it. I guess I can mention the shady drunk husband with cash and jealous rage to burn, or maybe the obvious perils of unpaid gambling debt; in the end it all amounts to who’s left standing, holding the money or both. Even Pegg’s charisma can’t stave away how thankless a character he embodies as Charlie’s sole monetary impetus becomes tiresome.

I’m not going to lie, writing this much about a film so incapable of transcending formula is difficult. It’s a shame too, because the familiar can often shine in accentuating strong suits by way of narrative or presentation. As a recent example, Jaume Collet-Serra’s middling Run All Night, while largely characteristic of the star helming the third of three collaborations, finds jumbled grace in its increasingly batshit conflict and barebones if still palpable emotionality. It didn’t grab me personally, but none of Kill Me Three Times did on account of its flaccid chronology-tweaking foreplay, subsequent resolution and an entirely detestable, idiotic and unsympathetic cast of characters.

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