The buddy action comedy shenanigans of The Man from Toronto are as generic as the title. Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson can’t save a lazy script that could’ve used a potent punch up. The stars are dropped into scenarios we’ve seen on countless occasions in this mistaken identity caper where a wimpy everyman must masquerade as a tough guy. There’s not a new ingredient to be found unless you count the hitman secretly hoping to be a chef.
Woody Harrelson is The Man from Toronto, that culinary minded assassin with a legendary reputation for extracting sensitive information from his captors. His methods of doing so aren’t any more creative than your run-of-the-mill bad guy. However, he’s got a conscience and a story about a bear mauling his grandpa on a frozen lake. It’s as pointlessly strange as it sounds.
Kevin Hart is struggling fitness instructor Teddy, who can’t sell his get rich quick idea of contactless boxing. While treating his wife Lori (Jasmine Mathews) to a birthday celebration weekend, the hapless entrepreneur checks into the wrong cabin. This is due to a low toner issue printing off a smudgy address. To the best of my knowledge, Toronto was not shot over a decade ago. That’s when Teddy might have actually printed off directions instead of having them handy on his phone or programmed into the GPS. The Man from Toronto is scheduled for interrogation of a hostage at the cabin. When Teddy arrives first, he is forced to play the part.
When the FBI show up, the charade must continue. I might forget why as I’m typing because the screenplay is so forgettable. It involves the potential assassination of the Venezuelan President who’s visiting Washington D.C. Woody (I’m not going to keep saying The Man from Toronto) takes his orders from The Handler (Ellen Barkin), who has employees all over the globe. There’s The Man from Miami (Pierson Fode), who’s called in when Woody is busy dealing with Teddy’s intrusion. There’s Moscow and Tokyo! There’s the Men from Tacoma because they are siblings. Maybe a compelling picture could be made about how they’re selected. Do major metro areas get more than one Man? Why would Cody, Wyoming with its population of 10,000 get the same number as Beijing which has 24 million citizens? Shouldn’t they have more contract killers? What’s the nepotism backstory that allowed the brothers Tacoma to have double the hitmen as Tokyo?
These burning questions aside, The Man from Toronto would be far more tolerable if Hart and Harrelson had a scintilla of funny dialogue. Or if the action sequences were choreographed with more precision. The rare laughs come from (I suspect) Hart’s ad libbing and delivery. They don’t come from Kaley Cuoco, a talented comedienne who appears for about 5 minutes as Lori’s fun seeking friend. I wonder if her part got cut down? Cuoco never finds the entertainment she’s looking for and we can relate.
*1/2 (out of four)