Review: The Man From Toronto

The Man From Toronto


The look on my face watching this film.

In a bid to save a marriage ailing under the weight of his own professional failures, Teddy (Kevin Hart) takes his wife Lori (Jasmine Matthews) to a weekend away at a country lodge. But when a smudged address leads Teddy to the wrong lodge and into the middle of a criminal operation, he is mistaken for famed assassin/torturer “the Man from Toronto” and cast into an international trek to stop bad people from getting their hands on a deadly superweapon: unknown to him, the real Man from Toronto (Woody Harrelson) is on his trail.

Director Patrick Hughes has a history of not especially brilliant action movies behind him: The Expendables 3, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, it’s been a steady stream of unfortunately mediocre offerings characterised by big names slumming it through unexceptional scripts and, if we are all being honest with ourselves, not especially brilliant action. The Man From Toronto, a film that reads as if Hughes is attempting to do what Chad Stahelski did with the John Wick franchise, is the latest in the chain, and perfectly matches up to what came before: it’s dull, it’s derivative, and it is isn’t very good.

This is a buddy action comedy, so absolutely everything hinges on the two leads having the right kind of chemistry with each other. It’s far from enough that they be opposites able to bounce off the other verbally, which is the case here, there has to be spark. And it is rare that I have seen a film in this sub-genre where the two leads so patently do not have that spark. Hart and Harrelson might as well have been filming their lines in separate rooms, so deadened are they to the other. Hart is meant to bring the comedy slapstick here, Harrelson is meant to be the straight man to Hart’s wrong man, but the two just have nothing between them: Harrelson, a replacement from the probably more suitable Jason Statham apparently, looks genuinely bored in certain scenes, as if Hart’s verbal antics are just tiresome too him, while Hart has done far better with similar material in the past, such as Central Intelligence with Dwayne Johnson. That wasn’t a brilliant film by any means, but you could tell that the leads were able to work with each other to pull off the right timing, be it comedic or action-focused: The Man From Toronto cannot boast the same, with the the interaction of the two leads positively alien in its lack of engagement.

But who can blame these two really? The story, such as it is, is all over the place, half John Wick in its depicted world of assassins coming out of every nook and cranny, half Uncharted in the way some of the action sequences are set-up and executed. There’s a bomb that makes its destruction look like an earthquake, a plot to kill a Venezuelan ambassador (which, in action stakes, doesn’t seem like all that much) and a running sub-plot of Toronto not being able to trust his handler (a very bored looking Ellen Barkin, and I know I am using those words a lot) along with a dream to open a restaurant after getting out of the killing business and it all just seems thrown together so we can see Hart blather on in the style we have seen him do before, and occasionally get a few punches being thrown and guns being fired.

But neither of those things works very well. Hart’s monologues come off as more cringe than funny, with his coward act wearing thin long before the half way point and the action really isn’t all that exceptional either. It isn’t that Harrelson doesn’t have the presence to be an action hero exactly, but the lack of energy in his performance here perhaps insures that we view him more as a mindless automaton when he faces up for the hand-to-hand. A very belated effort to jolt things into life in the finale, where Hughes attempts to make an epic faux-one shot action sequences through a gym, pales in comparison to other efforts of a similar nature, appearing gimmicky and more than a little desperate in its execution, a director covering for his film’s failings by trying to wow you through the camerawork. There’s very little else to talk about in what I have to describe as a fairly vacuous exercise: the less said about the supporting cast, from Matthews to Kaley Cuoco, the better, the lot seeming as if they are here just to cash a cheque and get the hell out of dodge.

The Man From Toronto actually has the balls to set-up a sequel of some kind in its final minutes, which seems like a definite reach, no matter how many views this gets. Last week I watched Interceptor, which was an action film that lacked the budget, star power and length of The Man From Toronto, but which outperforms it on every metric. It has its detractors, but I don’t think it can be claimed that there was a laziness in its production. It’s that, more than anything else, which hamstrings The Man From Toronto: everything about it, from cast to script to action feels lazy, like the people behind the camera or the people in front of it, or both, just know that this whole endeavour is not worth their time. No film can recover from such a thing. This is a really disappointing waste of fine resources. Not recommended.

(All images are copyright of Netflix).

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2 Responses to Review: The Man From Toronto

  1. Pingback: Review: DC League Of Super-Pets | Never Felt Better

  2. Pingback: Film Rankings And Awards 2022 | Never Felt Better

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