Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Man From Toronto had some behind-the-scenes drama before it even started filming. Jason Statham was set to star in his action vehicle opposite Kevin Hart before abruptly leaving the project due to the dreaded creative differences. In stepped Woody Harrelson to fill the void Statham left. From what I have seen in the film, Harrelson filled in admirably, resulting in a movie that was a lot of fun.
Teddy Nilson (Kevin Hart) is an average guy with a YouTube channel that nobody watches. He has one thing going for him: a beautiful wife who stands by him through thick and thin. He plans a nice romantic getaway at an AirBnB by a lake in a secluded area so he and her can spend some alone time together on her birthday. When he arrives at the cottage, he is mistaken for the titular title character "The Man From Toronto" until the actual Man from Toronto (Woody Harrelson), an assassin for hire, arrives, and all hell breaks loose.
Surprisingly Woody Harrelson and Kevin Hart have very good chemistry together. They have a lot of banter that brings laughs: Hart as the comedic pulse and Harrelson as the stoic serious tough guy. Various sequences involve a lot of action and some visual effects that might not be very believable, but we go with it because of the investment we've made in the odd couple. One, in particular, is a very good plane action scene; other action films could learn from the people who did this one.
There is a side story here that is basically the heart and soul of the film. This story anchors an action-heavy movie that needs a little more substance, and this subplot does the job. Once we, as the viewers, get to know these characters, their backstories and lives away from the main plot become even more important. By the end of the film, we are fully invested in the outcome of the two main protagonists and their lives. This film does a great job of setting all of this up and paying for it off.
Besides the two main characters, the film introduces us to a few supporting characters that are pretty superfluous to the plot — like Kaley Cuoco's character — except for one, in particular, played by Ellen Barkin. She is pretty sinister and greedy and has underlying ideas of how things should be going. They don't end up the way she wants in the end. The running gag of various other assassins named after their cities is pretty cool as well.
Kevin Hart has been getting these types of roles ever since he teamed up with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in films like Central Intelligence and the Jumanji reboot films. He plays this type of neurotic oddball pretty well. It's become his forte in Hollywood now. Cast Kevin Hart in an actioner opposite a perceived tough guy and let him go to work being funny. Wash, rinse, repeat, and it's a pretty good formula for him. Usually, these films are successful, and after watching The Man From Toronto, he has another hit on his hands.
Even though this film had some behind-the-scenes drama, it didn't affect the outcome. This film turned out fine. The chemistry between Hart and Harrelson was pretty good. Not Hart and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson good, but pretty good. The action sequences were very good, especially the plane sequence. The supporting cast was fine, and the film was pretty funny all-around. This might actually be a big hit for Netflix, which desperately needs it.
The Man From Toronto streams on Netflix beginning June 24.