A red VW Bug bounces down a beach road in Australia, past a sign that cautions, "Dangerous Coast: Lives Have Been Lost." No kidding. Kriv Stenders's comic crime spree Kill Me Three Times chases after mustachioed hitman Charlie (Simon Pegg), who's himself chasing after his latest target, a cheating wife named Alice (Alice Braga). The problem -- and possible blessing -- is that Alice, too, is in the crosshairs of a deadly dentist (Sullivan Stapleton) and his wife (Teresa Palmer), who are in turn being hunted by...oh man, this is already exhausting.
The flick, written by debut screenwriter James McFarland, is twisty, clever, and totally Nineties, complete with a bag of cash that gets passed from crook to crook, color saturation cranked up to cartoonish, and a twangy steel-guitar soundtrack that's far too chipper for the onscreen gore. (Especially when Alice faces off with her abusive husband, the cruel-cheekboned Callan Mulvey.) Taped onto VHS, Kill Me Three Times could pass for a forgotten Pulp Fiction knockoff, if not for the fact that Palmer would have been eight years old. Here, lives are so cheap that the film plays like a game of Mouse Trap, placing characters in a snare, yanking them out, and then revealing facts that make us want to shove them back in. Pegg is fun as the psychopathic murderer who, even at the wrong end of a rifle, still cheers, "Nice shot!" Are there symbolic roadkill kangaroos? Absolutely.