MOVIE REVIEW – The Man from Toronto is a tedious, formulaic action-comedy. Apart from a poorly edited fight scene, there is little exciting action, and the film’s humour leaves much to be desired.
Kevin Hart first came to the public’s attention in the mid-2000s in minor roles in Along Came Polly and Party Down. The reputation he built up later served as a springboard to expand his stand-up comedy audience and paved the way for a promising film career.
The difference between these early films and films like The Man from Toronto is not Hart’s leading role but his inability to show off his comic skills in this very movie. In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Hart gave one of the best comedies of the decade with a single excellent performance. Her impact on the film is monumental, and this was essentially a cameo. In Scary Movie 3, he and Anthony Anderson were the best parts of a franchise that had long been knocking at death’s door, and Hart was the only irreplaceable new addition to the cast. Director Patrick Hughes (The Bodyguard Assassin) is certainly capable of making a funny Woody Harrelson action-comedy, but The Man from Toronto is not one. The film mostly reaffirms that we still don’t have the iconic, big-budget Hart film that the comedian’s career has been heading towards.
The misadventures of a lame fitness guru
Teddy (Hart) is a down-on-his-luck, aspiring fitness guru who loves his girlfriend (Jasmine Mathews). Although she loves him back, his inability to launch his career on his own begins to drive a wedge in their relationship. He decides to take her away for a romantic birthday weekend to spice up their relationship but gets the wrong directions to their accommodation. Toronto wants its name back, and Teddy just wants to get there in time for dinner. When they arrive, the guests assume he is the man they’ve been waiting for: a Toronto man, a ruthless assassin who is an expert at torturing people. At the last minute, the real Toronto man (Harrelson) bursts in and finishes the job. The odd couple is only prevented from achieving their goals by an international criminal network trying to kill them.
The Man from Toronto is a dull, formulaic action-comedy that lacks both real humour and action. Once again, Netflix could only show that it can make lousy movies with big stars, and the streaming service abounds in skippable content featuring fan-favourite stars. Not only are the jokes lame, but apart from a poorly edited fight scene, there is little in the way of riveting action. Kevin Hart is the only one who can occasionally make us laugh, but it’s not because of a terrible script but because of his personal comedic skills.
Bad career choices
Let’s add that Hart doesn’t do his best to cement his career either: shoddy dramatic attempts like True Story, where he has to be believable as a murderer, only confuse his fans.
Moreover, here (and almost always), he tries hard to portray a man who loves his wife, which brings The Man from Toronto down even more. Instead of at least following the assassin line, the film is sweatily shackled to the story thread of Teddy’s wife’s birthday party. Everything from the delivery of pivotal information to the huge action scenes is constantly interrupted by the unfortunate way Teddy talks to his wife or apologizes to her.
Another Netflix flop
At the film’s beginning, Hart and Mathews’ characters can at least rely on some comedy as the man’s insecurities twinkle. But as The Man from Toronto tries to return to the action-comedy line, the break-up of their relationship once again diverts the script from its proper course. The initial relationship problems only drag down the already steely protagonist.
It’s not good for Netflix’s already declining reputation with this dewy action-comedy. While the streaming service is under enormous pressure and has to resort to all sorts of ‘tricks’ to keep users by the skin of their teeth, a lousy film like this only strengthens their consumers who are ‘clamouring’ for other providers. And there are plenty of rival offers now…