THE MAN FROM TORONTO (NETFLIX) (2022)
SYNOPSIS: A case of mistaken identity arises after a screw-up sales consultant and the world’s deadliest assassin—known only as The Man from Toronto— run into each other at a holiday rental.
Australian-born director Patrick Hughes made his name in Hollywood with The Expendables 3 and The Hitman’s Bodyguard series. Given the success of the Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson outings, Hughes once again recycles his buddy action comedy formula in The Man from Toronto only this time without the R-rated language and violence.
Kevin Hart plays Teddy Jackson, a perpetual screw-up who dreams of introducing a form of non-contact boxing in the gym he works at. Despite his proposal being rejected by his boss, Teddy proceeds to surprise his wife, Lori (Jasmine Matthews) with a spa and cabin retreat. But when he arrived alone at the desolated cabin, he is mistaken as a vicious “assassin” dubbed ‘The Man from Toronto’ by a pair of thugs. Left with no other choice, Teddy plays along until the abrupt arrival of the FBI.
Since his photo has been sent to a certain Colonel who plans to bomb the Venezuela embassy and overthrown the government, Teddy has no choice but to cooperate with the FBI to meet with the Colonel. However, when the real ‘The Man from Toronto’ aka Randy (Woody Harrelson) learns of it, he suggests that they should team up and Randy can coach Teddy via his earpiece to complete the transaction so that he can retire to be a chef and specialises in Durian sorbet (the only highlight of this otherwise tepid comedy).
The Man from Toronto for a start looks and appears like a discarded screenplay for Rush Hour 4. You can practically imagine Jackie Chan playing Randy, the straight man whose only task is to protect Teddy and kick-ass in a couple of high-octane action sequences while Hart is obviously substituting Chris Tucker given his predictable routine of rapid-fire jokes and gags which actually falls flat for most of the screentime. Jason Statham was supposedly set to star as Randy only to exit at the last minute over the tone of the flick. A wise choice indeed on Statham’s part because the improv-style jokes simply don’t work here even though there’s nothing wrong casting Harrelson.
The tiresome action comedy also suffers from an unnecessarily prolonged plot which involves too many false endings. There’s a decent gag towards the end that has ‘The Man from Miami’, ‘The Men from Tacoma’ and ‘The Man from Russia’ gunning for both Teddy and Randy’s lives. Again, the gag dragged on far too long and overstayed its welcome by the time the dust settled. The wasted cast also includes Ellen Barkin as Randy’s rocket-toting handler and Kaley Cuocco as Randy’s love interest.
The writing is basically on the wall when Sony decides to dump this to Netflix. The globe-trotting actioner has too many forgettable CGI-heavy action sequences and Hart’s fumbling, fart and vomit gags can’t really save the entire movie either. And Hughes certainly needs to work with a better editor to keep things tighter and lastly, he sure needs to fine tune his formula for his next outing.
Review by Linus Tee