Based on the character from Marvel comics but, apparently, a standalone film separate from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Venom features Tom Hardy as maverick investigative journalist Eddie Brock tasked with interviewing Riz Ahmed’s shadowy philanthropist Carlton Drake. Drake is concerned with mankind’s wasteful ways and the damage being caused to our planet, and so obsesses with living in space and exploring our surrounding galaxy when one of his research teams finds evidence of extra-terrestrial life and brings some samples back to earth for analysis.
These samples, violent blob like sticky shape-shifters, are able to enter the human body by osmosis, take it over and consequently its host can do all sorts of super-human things. The downside to this is that it needs a regular supply of live meat to maintain its strength. Brock finds himself fusing with one of the parasites and attempts to come to terms with his new-found friend, and angry outbursts, whilst Drake’s thirst for power risks global destruction, setting the pair on a collision course in a lacklustre finale.
Venom tries way too hard to be funny and regularly falls flat. The script doesn’t have the assured confidence of the familiar MCU and seems torn between committing to drama or comedy with neither winning out. The majority of set pieces are uninspired, and certainly nothing new, whilst the talented cast are not fully utilised at all.
Tom Hardy gives a twitchy, disjointed performance and his usual charisma seems lacking in a role where he’s hard to root for as he comes across as obnoxious, deceitful and unlikeable. Michelle Williams doesn’t have anything to do in a role we’ve seen hundreds of times before and Riz Ahmed’s heartless corporate boss is laden with all the worst dialogue. When revealed Venom, although an alien, has somehow managed to quickly learn all sorts of human quirks and the banter between it and Brock is neither clever or funny.
Overall the film seems rushed and the unimaginative ending is a huge anti-climax making Venom feel like a missed opportunity. Tom Hardy has apparently signed up for two more of these films. Hopefully, lessons will be learned from where this one failed.
Stick around for two scenes at the end if you want to. One mid-credits featuring Woody Harrelson looking like Sideshow Bob and coming across even less menacing than he does, with another right at the end featuring Spider-Man, but not that Spider-Man.
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Film reviewer for Time and Leisure Magazine, The Movie Waffler and We Are Cult.
Former actor (a regular in The Bill) and voiceover artist with Rhubarb Voices.