★★ out of four stars
Rating: R for bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.
Simon Pegg is a genius at satire. He’s wonderful spoofing zombie movies with “Shaun of the Dead,” buddy-cop action flicks with “Hot Fuzz,” spy and space pictures in the “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek” series. While this Australian murder comedy, mocking standard elements of crime capers, isn’t as consistently funny, Pegg’s rare ability to create intelligent idiocy liberates scene after scene.
Kriv Stenders’ film, trying very hard to be madcap, lets us know early and often that we’re in weird territory. As we follow a half-dozen desperados hoping to liquidate each other, their cars frequently race past the same roadkill wallaby, shown in close-up, no less. Pegg plays a calculating English hitman hiring his services to a bar owner who is eager to lose his wife as fast and fatally as possible. As the title suggests, it’s just one portion of the local oddballs’ overlapping assassinations, most startlingly brutal, all of them played for laughs. The story line moves ahead, backward and sideways in three separate chapters that generally set up enough surprises to give viewers, and the characters, banana-peel concussions.
Good work by veteran Aussie star Bryan Brown as the immoral police chief, and breathtaking Teresa Palmer as the town dentist’s even more corrupt wife, demonstrates there’s only so much in James McFarlend’s would-be Tarantino script that can be rescued. Not-so-good work by Luke Hemsworth as a hunkish but lunkheaded car mechanic helps little. Still, it features gorgeous seaside scenery and offers a tasty first course of Pegg to stimulate the palate before the bountiful “Mission: Impossible 5” is served in July.