Directed By Patrick Hughes
Starring – Kevin Hart, Woody Harrelson, Kaley Cuoco
The Plot – A case of mistaken identity arises after a screw-up sales consultant (Hart) and the world’s deadliest assassin (Harrelson), known only as The Man from Toronto, run into each other at a holiday rental.
Rated PG-13 for violence throughout, some strong adult language and suggestive material
While a majority of the material rests solely on the laurels of its predictable gimmick and ham-fisted message, I felt that the third act for the film was easily the highlight of the movie for me, acting as a sort of contradiction to the barrel of missed opportunities that continuously stacked up in this film like the building blocks of a broken home. During this time, the pacing greatly improves, the story settles into a groove that finally attains with it some much needed momentum to carry itself across the finish line, and the movie’s only solid action piece concludes matters with a brush of bittersweet optimism for what could’ve been within this flawed experience. This is made all the more impactful with a rating that definitely stretches the most mileage out of its designation, especially with the aforementioned finale that features a character boiling in a tub of acid, above all else. If a film can at least bridge the gap of its material with daring, lethal instances, I can at respect it for its boldness in ambition that occasionally ratchets up the crazy at the most impactful of moments. Finally, the problems within the performances persist in some questionable casting choices, but the hinderances make Harrelson’s work all the more compelling with everything surrounding him working in almost complete contradiction. Harrelson’s depth affords him a believability in gruff exterior that transcends him from the lovable lug head we’ve come to know him by in various comedic turns, into the locked and loaded force we see before us. Harrelson is intimidating, cunning, and above all else ferocious in his portrayal, and the film is all the better for it when he decorates it with a barrage of bullets and blood that convey his character’s intensity.
Patrick Hughes definitely has a type. As the architect who commanded films like “The Expendables 3” and both “Hitman’s Bodyguard” films, it’s easy to see formulaically where “The Man From Toronto” fits in that distinction, especially considering the returns continue diminishing with this latest effort. Hughes film feels like it’s constantly in a struggle creatively with itself, both in tone and storytelling, which are subjected victims to two distinctly different visions fighting for dominance in this categorically sloppy rendering. On one side, the film’s buddy comedy is lukewarm, with gags of material easily detectable and delivered with a level of confidence that all but cements a question mark at the end of each delivery. Likewise, the film’s action side is certainly more dominant in its gritty presentation and studio stock score, but with sequences that are horrendously captured with the worst of shaking-camera cinematography and laughably bad C.G.I effects work. On the latter, the clearly evident distinction of green-screen influence carries with it an artificiality for gravity and skyscapes that completely break concentration for the audience each time they invade the screen, with the herky-jerky movements of Hart springing forth a cartoon quality of influence that isn’t complimentary to the film in the slightest. Speaking of Hart, his casting in the film doesn’t work on an array of levels. For starters, he has zero chemistry with Harrelson, which is all the more painful when you consider they’re asked to grow together as a team by the rules of a buddy comedy. He’s also flat in the comedy department, with a character no different from his previous films, and material that forcefully intends itself to repeatedly hammer home its various punchlines. I’ve always said there’s no film worse than a bad comedy, and everything about the gags in “The Man From Toronto” echoes that sentiment with a consistency to misfiring that grows tedious the longer the 107 minute run time persists. Equally compromising is a barebones screenplay without a semblance of surprise or building momentum that not only makes this boring from the opening minutes, but also offers little in the way of compelling storytelling to keep you intrigued with the expanding of the narrative. Part of the problem is certainly in the derivative nature of its structure, which you only have to look as far as Hughes own filmography to spot mirroring instances, but the bigger concern with Hughes is in his own inability to craft any semblance of substantial style to at least give us something endearing to transfix our perils of boredom with the story. The shot selection stunts framing during key moments it should influence the most, and the color grading of the presentation inconsistently blunders its way to evidential differences even between neighboring scenes that further adds to the disjointed nature of the movie’s creativity and tone, ultimately keeping it from finding a cohesive distinction where any aspect of production feels synonymously sound with one another.
Even for Netflix standards, “The Man From Toronto” is a messy script and monotonously dull experience that tries forcefully to fool audiences into a good time by attaching two major names to its monumental failure. Though Harrelson is along for the ride, Hart stumbles with a twelve year turn that has grown redundant by this point, leaving Hughes project another humorless, thrill-less installment of the subgenre that he has helped pad shamelessly over the last decade.
My Grade: 3/10 or F+