'The Man from Toronto' Is Worse Than a Maple Leafs Playoff Run

Directed by Patrick Hughes

Starring Kevin Hart, Woody Harrelson, Jasmine Mathews, Kaley Cuoco, Ellen Barkin

Photo courtesy of Netflix

BY Rachel HoPublished Jun 24, 2022

Originally set for a theatrical release, The Man from Toronto's distribution rights were eventually sold by Sony to Netflix — and what a prudent decision that was. It's the perfect movie for the streaming platform: big name stars, light entertainment, low-stakes action. It's the kind of movie that you click on when you're looking for something to watch that you only want to half pay attention to. You see a couple recognizable comedians on your Netflix home screen and think, why not?

Those comedians are Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, who play your classic screwup and assassin, respectively. Hart's Teddy works in sales and does marketing for a local gym. He's pushing the idea of "non-contact boxing" as the next big thing, but based on his track record for screwing things up (or "pulling a Teddy") and not following through, his idea is met with great skepticism. Our loveable screwup isn't a screwup in love though, it would seem. He has a lovely wife, Ruth (Jasmine Mathews), whose birthday is coming up, and Teddy goes all out by renting a cabin just for them and treating his lady to a wonderful spa day. 

Things go awry when Teddy reads the directions to the cottage wrong because of a poorly printed email confirmation — "It's a toner issue," he tells everyone. He ends up in a cabin meant for "The Man from Toronto" (Harrelson), an assassin known for his effective information extraction techniques. The FBI are surveilling the cabin and, while they know that Teddy isn't the man they're looking for, they use the mistaken identity to their advantage in an attempt to find the real Man from Toronto. 

There's no second guessing the reveals and twists of this film: you know what they are, and you can guess each beat before it happens. And generally speaking, if a movie is entertaining enough, predictability is fine (Ambulance comes to mind as a recent great example). But somehow, even with Hart and Harrelson leading the way, The Man from Toronto becomes one of those movies where you check how much longer is left, and think, "There's still 40 minutes?!"

Part of the pallid nature of the movie comes from the confusing editing. It's as if half the editing team were given the instruction that it's a straightforward buddy comedy, and the other half were told it's a swish popcorn action movie. And rather than find a happy balance between the two (like many, many films before it have done with great effect), they just smushed the two cuts together in the hopes that the story would still make sense — which it kind of does, because a story this generic is ingrained into our brains already and we can fill in all the gaps.

Now, for some positivity: Hart and Harrelson are reliably Hart and Harrelson. Director Patrick Hughes gives Hart a lot of room to riff and inject his trademark self-deprecating humour and faux tough-guy bravado into the mix. If you're a fan of Hart, you'll enjoy his turn as Teddy and the humour he brings. 

Harrelson is the standout in the film. He plays steely assassin well and acts as a great straight man to Hart's silly man. There are moments where he's able to lend some of his own humour, and he does so with the expert comedic timing he's honed over the years. 

Mathews and Kaley Cuoco are given the thankless job of playing the generic women in the movie. Cuoco's Maggie, Ruth's best friend, in particular seems very randomly tacked onto the film, to the point that I wondered if she didn't have a bigger part that was cut away in one of the editing rooms.

When we selected The Man From Toronto as one of our most anticipated films of 2022, there was a general assumption (mostly because the movie was actually filmed in Toronto) that Toronto would actually be on display. Annoyingly, it turns out that Toronto was just a stand-in for the Washington metropolitan area. That's not a valid reason to negatively criticize a movie, though (neither is the fact that Toronto is constantly mispronounced throughout the two-hour runtime, save for a few mentions, but I digress).

So what makes a movie with Toronto in the title that doesn't actually show Toronto and keeps calling the city "Toe-ron-toe" bad? It's pretty boring, that's what. 

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