Toronto’s Man from TorontoThe Netflix action comedy starring Woody Harrelson, Kevin Hart and is the type of movie that you’ll forget as soon the credits stop rolling. It has two hours worth of light-hearted laughs, wrapped in a plot so thin it barely counts as an escape from the dullness of everyday life. This isn’t the sort of movie you would, or should, go out of your way to see. But if nothing else, it’s a showcase for one small blessing: the minor modern miracle of Hart’s timing.
Hart plays Teddy, an average guy from a place the movie calls Yorktown, USA, who just can’t get a break. Lori Mathews, his wife is the love of Hart. But he’s one of those men who can just never follow through on anything; he always neglects some minor but essential detail. His latest scheme is a fitness regimen he calls no-contact boxing, a discipline that’s heavy on cardio but doesn’t actually involve punching anyone. It’s not such a terrible idea, but Teddy has almost willed himself into failure, and he fears that Lori, as much she loves him, is losing patience.
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He booked a weekend getaway in Virginia for his girlfriend’s birthday. But he screws up even that: when he prints out the location of the Airbnb cabin he’s rented, the ink is so faint he can’t read the address. This leads him to the wrong cabin, and causes him to be mistaken for the ill-tempered hitman we’ve already met in the movie’s first scene, the killer-for-hire who goes by the moniker the Man from Toronto (Harrelson). When the FBI bursts onto the scene, Hart stammers his feeble excuse: “It was a low-toner situation.”
Ellen Barkin and Kevin Hart in The Man From Toronto
Sabrina Lantos/Netflix—© 2022 Netflix, Inc.
What follows is a nearly impossible-to-follow caper in which the two men, adversaries at first, are forced to work together to bring down a Venezuelan baddie who’s trying to sabotage his own country. Harrelson’s character, who strides through the movie in trim black assassin’s gear, is one of those cartoonishly enigmatic loners whose prized possession is a 1969 Dodge Charger. He takes his orders from a handler he’s never met in real life, a mystery woman with an ice-white bob (Ellen Barkin). He loves 19th century poetry, and plans to quit his job as a hired killer to open his own restaurant. They have very little in common. But after they’ve been dangled from airborne planes and shot at by various thugs, they reach an uneasy truce, and almost learn to like one another. This shouldn’t be surprising.
It is the action that counts Toronto: The Man From Toronto—directed by Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard) and written by Robbie Fox and Charles Bremner, from a story by Jason Blumenthal—is really just an excuse for Hart and Harrelson to spar and banter as they’re getting knocked around. These two actors are seasoned enough to generate some sparks, even if much of the dialogue they’re given to work with is, for lack of a better word, lame. Hart has the gift of doing the most for the least. When Toronto snarls, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world,” Hart’s Teddy launches into a nervous soliloquy whose stops and starts constitute a kind of staccato symphony. “Dogs,” he informs Toronto solemnly, “don’t eat dogs. Now, naturally, a dog may sniff another dog’s butt.” He waits a beat. “He may lick some poop—occasionally—but he won’t eat another dog.”
These lines are not funny as they stand. Hart, however is a comic iron man who can twist even the most sloppy dialogue into something that makes you smile despite your shortcomings. It’s possible that you will find yourself laughing more about Hart than at anything else afterward. How does Hart get away with chatter that’s so unequivocally dumb? It would be a disservice to his modest method to analyze it clinically. It is, at least, Toronto’s Man of the Year, he’s a life force that prevents the whole enterprise from being dead on arrival.
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