The Man from Toronto. MA, 110 minutes. 3 stars
At the start of last year the American comedian and actor Kevin Hart got cancelled by the internet.
After the entire history people feeling powerless, the internet is suddenly a tool where the general populace enjoy some sense of control over their lives and, for a short while now, it has occasionally used its collective power.
In this instance, a series of jokes Hart made years earlier as part of his stand-up routine got judged by a jury of people scrolling on their couches and their collective ire made the producers of the 2019 Oscar telecast so scared, they fired him from his presenting job, to prevent the internet from cancelling them too.
Now, those old jokes he made were pretty homophobic, but I'm a big ol' queer myself and I wasn't so offended by his being an uninformed tool that I wanted the man to lose his job. But here's the thing - looks like the lifespan of an internet cancellation is finite, because here Kevin Hart is this week, headlining a big-budget Netflix film.
So much for your power, internet.
Kevin Hart plays Teddy, something of a charming nobody who has never put much effort into anything and finally his chickens come home to roost.
It is his wife's birthday and he wants to give her an amazing weekend away, but he has just lost his job and because he didn't put toner in his home printer, the can't read the address of the romantic cabin he has booked.
And so Teddy walks into the wrong place at the right time, and is mistaken for the notorious international hitman "The Man From Toronto" (Woody Harrelson), a torturer and expert extractor of secrets whose identity is unknown to many.
Teddy bumbles his way through Toronto's assignment which puts Teddy's image out in the world as the assassin.
Now the real hitman needs Teddy so they can finish a job that will land them both a huge pay day and let Teddy get back to his wife and quiet suburban life.
Standing in the way are Toronto's handler (Ellen Barkin) and a series of geographically named hitmen from her stable, including The Man from Miami (Pierson Fode).
The Man from Toronto is directed by Patrick Hughes, an Aussie whose first big-screen outing was the terrific Red Hill from 2010. After that film, it's been a series of films that have been critically reviled, and I mean by me, but which have made a ton of money and made him one of Hollywood's "it" directors.
He does have a good ear for comedy, and there are some genuine laughs in this film, many made against my own will.
Woody Harrelson is the best thing in the production, channeling Jason Statham as the enigmatic killer, which makes sense because Statham started with the production but left before filming started.
Harrelson's Toronto proves to be a softie, a bit of the predictable unexpected in a fairly predictable screenplay from writers Robbie Fox (So I Married an Axe Murderer) and Chris Bremmer (Bad Boys for Life).
The film wastes two brilliant actresses in fairly supportive roles - Kayley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory as a blind date for the assassin Toronto, and the classy Ellen Barkin.
The strutting beefcake Pierson Fode, who cut his teeth as a limbo on daytime television, is memorable as the killer Miami that comes after our leads.
The Netflix audience love this kind of film - harmless, low-stakes, a brainless way to kill an evening on the couch. It will be far more successful, gain far more eyeballs on the streaming platform than it ever might have earned, or deserved, on the big screen.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.