A movie review of “Kill Me Three Times”: Simon Pegg, showing up as a black-clad assassin, is the best part of this otherwise disappointing tale full of twists. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

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Several times, in the otherwise disappointing sun-drenched noir “Kill Me Three Times,” Simon Pegg turns up as a black-clad assassin and suavely peels off the sunglasses from his face as if revealing a masterpiece behind a curtain — and that little moment, each time, almost makes the film worth watching. Pegg has an uncanny way of making a tiny gesture funny; he suddenly goes into a deadpan bit of James Bond-ish slow motion, as if this small-time hood is hoping that there might be a camera catching him, somewhere.

Pegg’s a pleasure, but elsewhere “Kill Me Three Times” is never as clever as it wants to be. The script, by James McFarland, is nicely twisty, revolving around an Australian surfing town’s femme fatale (Alice Braga), a dentist trapped in debt (Sullivan Stapleton), a cuckolded bar owner (Callan Mulvey), a love-struck surfer (Luke Hemsworth, brother of Liam and Chris — is there no end to the muscle in this family?), a scheming dental receptionist (Teresa Palmer) and a corrupt cop (Bryan Brown) wearing aviator sunglasses, as all such cops are required to do. (Sunglasses are something of a recurring theme in this film. Then again, it is kind of bright out there on the Aussie coast.) McFarland and director Kriv Stenders flip the story backward, forward and inside-out, showing us repeated scenes from different perspectives; early scenes are confusing, but by the film’s end, we pretty much know everyone’s motives.

The problem is that we don’t much care. On paper, these characters sound like they should be funny and compelling; in reality, despite the cast’s best efforts, the whole thing just lacks oomph. Perhaps we’ve just seen a few too many twisty tales of gunmen, sirens and blood streaming from heads like a sudden red-pipe explosion; perhaps this film’s balance of noir and dark humor is a bit off. (And really, the whole dental angle is a missed opportunity; see “Little Shop of Horrors.”) Perhaps Pegg just needs to make another movie in which he plays an assassin who thinks he’s starring in his own movie; that, anytime, is worth watching.

Movie Review ★★  

‘Kill Me Three Times,’ with Simon Pegg, Alice Braga, Sullivan Stapleton, Teresa Palmer, Callan Mulvey, Luke Hemsworth, Bryan Brown. Directed by Kriv Stenders, from a screenplay by James McFarland. 90 minutes. Rated R for bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity. Seven Gables.