Apparently The man from Toronto which was in production in early 2020 fell victim to Covid when Sony Pictures pushed it around the release schedule before eventually giving up and turning it over to Netflix in a deal earlier this year. So let’s look at this: You have an action comedy with Kevin Hart at his sweet spot, which pairs him alongside Woody Harrelson and has Kaley Cuoco in a supporting role, with a director and writers who have had great success in this genre, the work behind the scenes. Sounds like a recipe for a summer blockbuster, right?
Apparently Sony didn’t believe that and unloaded it on Netflix, which begins streaming it on Friday (reviews were blocked until Thursday at 9pm ET) without the kind of fanfare a star-driven commercial film would ordinarily receive. And at least from what I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be much theatrical attempt at all.
Maybe what seemed like a safe bet just got old fast. This film has a lot of deja vu feeling; Abbott and Costello have made a career out of things like this. Once again, Hart is the clumsy one, this time playing a not-so-successful sales consultant named Teddy with a big idea: an online gym, accompanied by a box of lame workout gear that he’s desperately trying to sell. In fact, the film starts off with what looks like an impromptu, not particularly fun part of Hart trying to sell the concept. He’s trying to please his wife, Lori (a wasted Jasmine Mathews), but nothing goes right for this guy, especially when he knocks on the wrong door for a sales pitch that turns out to be a criminal operation with bad guys torturing a poor man Dude hanging from the ceiling about to get hit if he doesn’t spill the beans.
When Teddy arrives, he is immediately mistaken for the mysterious but notoriously successful hitman known as The Man from Toronto. After trying to deny that he’s the guy, Teddy realizes the only way out is to go along with it, so he turns on his best tough guy to avoid slicing and slicing this guy in Toronto’s signature grisly way have to cut cubes.
When the FBI raids the place, Teddy survives, but because that’s what they really want indeed A Toronto man holds the key to a case they’re working on, and the agents hire Teddy to move on to play The Man From Toronto (aka Randy) so they can capture the real brains behind the operation – including a woman who appears to be the only known contact for Toronto, essentially his pimp for big hit jobs. She is played by the criminally unused Ellen Barkin, who needs a new agent. Of course, that doesn’t take long real Toronto (Harrelson) to find out a scammer is taking his business away and he snags Teddy and directs a familiar mismatched buddy movie while this odd couple discovers they actually need each other. Exuberance, car chases and explosions ensue as Teddy gets the kind of workout his online gym could only dream of and Hart is allowed to play his usual confused everyday guy who finds himself in a situation that spirals out of control.
The collaboration with Hart of Harrelson (who mostly plays it directly as a very imposing killer) is a good idea, but it’s mostly one-sided, as the Toronto character gets a lot goofier as this nearly two-hour opus rolls along and other villains like The Man From Miami (Pierson Fode), The Men From Tacoma (a brother act) and The Man From Tokyo join the fray. Meanwhile, Teddy will only cooperate if the FBI guarantees to pay off his credit cards and debts and allow him to be there for Lori’s birthday. Instead, they persuade him to have a handsome agent sent to take care of her birthday wishes, a trifle that adds up to zero. She also invites BFF Anne to join her, and that’s where Cuoco comes in, who deserves a better movie role than this one. She at least lends a spark to proceedings with her quirky one-liners, but when she’s ridiculously hooked up with Harrelson’s Toronto character, everything goes south — pretty much like the film itself, despite Hart’s best efforts in a role he’s having at the time could probably play in his sleep. His fans don’t mind, but you’re hoping for something anything this really captures the true talent within.
The director keeps it moving, but Patrick Hughes was down that rabbit hole before directing them both The Hitman’s bodyguard and Hitman’s wife’s bodyguard –– Apparently he has a soft spot for killers. The screenplay is credited to Robbie Fox and Chris Bremner, with Jason Blumenthal helping with the story. Producers are Todd Black, Steve Tisch and Blumenthal.
Check out my video review above with scenes from the film. plan to see The man from Toronto? Let us know what she think.