In the mid-2000s, audiences began recognizing Kevin Hart in small roles in Along Came Polly and Party Down. The goodwill he was building would go on to be the springboard for expanding his stand-up comedy audience and opening the door for his massive film career. The difference between those early movies and films like The Man From Toronto is not Hart’s role, but his comedic contribution diminishing. In The 40 Year Old Virgin, Hart legitimately hijacks one of the best comedies of that decade for one scene. His impact on that film is monumental and it is essentially a cameo. In Scary Movie 3, he and Anthony Anderson were the best part of a franchise that was knocking on death's door, with Hart the only irreplaceable new addition to that cast. Director Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard) is certainly capable of making a funny Woody Harrelson action-comedy but The Man From Toronto is not it. Most of all, the movie reaffirms the fact that we still don’t have the iconic, big-budget Hart movie his career has been working towards.
Teddy (Hart) is a down-on-his-luck aspiring fitness guru who loves his girlfriend (Jasmine Mathews). She loves him back, but his inability to self-start his career is beginning to drive a wedge in their relationship. He decides to take her on a romantic birthday weekend to brighten things up in their relationship, but gets the wrong directions to their lodging. Upon arrival, the patrons assume he is who they have been waiting for: The Man From Toronto, a torturing, ruthless, assassin. The real Man From Toronto (Harrelson) bursts in at the last second and finishes the job. Toronto wants his name back and Teddy just wants to get to dinner in time. The only thing stopping the odd couple from attaining their goals is an international network of criminals trying to kill them.
The Man From Toronto is a dull, by-the-numbers action-comedy, lacking both in laughs and in action. Netflix plus a big star is not necessarily a sure thing and the streamer is rife with missable content starring a fan-favorite actor. Apart from a “one-shot” fight sequence that is poorly edited together, there is little in the way of engaging action. Kevin Hart gets in a few chuckles, but for the most part, he, the rest of the cast, and Robbie Fox’s (Shooting Elizabeth) script have little in the way of laughs.
Hart's career is made all the more confusing by dramatic efforts like True Story, where he is meant to be believable as a murderer. It’s this self-seriousness, juxtaposed with a commitment to always portraying men who love their wives that drag down The Man From Toronto. There is no need to bring his character from the Think Like A Man franchise into the rest of his filmography, but it feels like that's exactly what is happening. The film is handcuffed to the B-plot of Teddy's wife’s birthday party to a relentless extent. Everything from climactic information being delivered to massive action set-pieces are interrupted by him speaking to or apologizing to his wife. Early in the film, Hart and Mathews' characters at least have some comedy to lean back on as the former's male insecurities shine. But as The Man From Toronto tries to get back to being an action-comedy, the dissolution of their relationship veers the script off course.
However, this is not a case of circumstance. The reality is that The Man From Toronto was likely always going to be well below average. The time when audiences might have expected the average Netflix movie to be Okja has long gone. Whatever one may think or say about The Man From Toronto, it falls squarely in line with what Hart and the streaming service have been doing since their partnership began.
The Man From Toronto is streaming on Netflix June 24. The film is 110 minutes and rated PG-13 for violence throughout, some strong language, and suggestive material.
- The Man From Toronto (2022)Release date: Jun 24, 2022