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REVIEW: The Man From Toronto Pairs Hart & Harrelson for a Solid Buddy-Comedy

The chemistry between Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson in The Man From Toronto helps elevate the slight but enjoyable buddy-comedy.

The Man From Toronto, which premieres June 24 on Netflix, is a somewhat slight film, using the classic buddy-comedy formula to dive into a world that juxtaposes smooth assassins with talkative gym owners. Thanks to a solid crew behind the scenes and the innately funny chemistry between the film’s stars, Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, The Man From Toronto comes together to be an enjoyable entry in the streaming service’s ever-growing library.

The film focuses largely on Teddy (Kevin Hart), a somewhat meek but optimistic fitness salesman who just can’t seem to come up with a way to prove himself. Desperate to convince his patient wife Lori (Jasmine Mathews) happy, Teddy plans out a romantic vacation for her birthday — only for a printing snafu to land him in the wrong cabin. There, he’s mistaken as the Man from Toronto, a mysterious icon in the secret world of criminals and assassins. This earns the ire of the actual Man from Toronto (Woody Harrelson), who decides to use the chaos created by Teddy to finish his job. Along the way, the pair discover hints that Toronto’s Handler (Ellen Barkin) is keeping secrets from him and is willing to send the Man From Miami (Pierson Fode) and a host of other dangerous killers to complete the task and put down the unlikely pair along the way.

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The Man From Toronto is very upfront about the kind of comedy it is, embracing the dichotomy of a John Wick-style Harrelson being paired with the fast-talking and perpetually on the edge of a breakdown Hart. Both actors bounce off each other well, providing the Odd Couple-style action pairing to work both as a vehicle for comedy and action set-pieces. Director Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard) is able to thread the needle well, keeping the action flowing while never losing sight of the comedy — especially during an airplane sequence relatively early in the film and a frantic brawl in a gym towards the end of the story.

The tighter scope of action sequences, which often pit Toronto against deadly foes in tight areas while Teddy just tries not to die, allows for quick gags to punctuate the film’s more thrilling moments. Harrelson proves adept at switching from coldly terrifying to comically enraged in a heartbeat. The film works largely thanks to Hart and Harrelson, who alternate between providing the film’s comic relief, dramatic tension, and action-heavy stakes. Hart does a solid balancing act between his typical loud and boisterous routine and the quieter moments that seep throughout the film, with his period of defeat as Teddy landing as well as they do thanks to a suddenly subdued performance.

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While the Man from Toronto’s motivation lands with far less fanfare, Harrelson finds moments of self-doubt and self-awareness that turn a potentially dour cipher into an enjoyable character in his own right. The rest of the cast — including a game Kaley Cuoco and Jencarlos Canela as Lori’s best friend Anne and the painfully charming Agent Santoro — all know what kind of film they’re in and do solid work with the thinly sketched characters.

The script by Robbie Fox and Jason Blumenthal lends The Man From Toronto a solid enough base for Hart and Harrelson — clearly having fun with their performances — to elevate the material. Their chemistry was always going to be the make-or-break element of the production, and it (plus solid direction from Hughes and cinematography from Rob Hardy) elevate a relatively basic premise with skilled execution. While it may not reinvent the wheel in any significant way, The Man From Toronto is a solid addition to the buddy-comedy genre and a good source of laughs for those looking for a fun experience.

To see Hart and Harrelson’s banter in action, check out The Man From Toronto, streaming on Netflix June 24.

Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through bs.zachary@gmail.com.

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