“My favourite 40 minutes from Venom were cut from the film,” said Tom Hardy at the film’s release. After reading this I got excited.
After all sorts of trouble with the film’s production (a first Venom script was written in 1997 yet the film didn’t release until 2018) and now this damning quote, the film was shaping up to be a hot-mess. Venom could have been the worst Spider-Man movie ever made, which is saying something considering just how bad Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man were.
However, Venom is instead just a mediocre film that doesn’t know what it wants to be.
The plot of the film follows an alien organism – the symbiote – which crash-lands on earth. It’s a virus, and after it infects its human host it assumes control of the body. Elon Must-esque scientist, and the film’s antagonist, Carlton Drake, discovers that the more people the symbiote infects, the more control humans get over the alien and its powers. Eventually, investigative journalist, Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy, is infected by the titular symbiote – Venom – and the rest of the film follows his troubles with his new Venom abilities.
Venom sells itself as a dark Spider-Man spinoff, however, someone forgot to tell Tom Hardy. The Academy Award nominee gives the comedic performance of his life, which for the most part seems out-of-place considering the first 10-minutes of the film is a brutal scene that wouldn’t be out of place in an 80s horror or thriller like Predator.
It’s hard to tell if it’s Hardy’s fault, or if the blame should fall on director Ruben Fleischer who couldn’t decide whether to fully commit to the horror theme or submit to Hardy’s improv-comedic acting.
Michelle Williams seems to be only other person on the set who is in on Hardy’s joke, giving another one of her signature aloof performances where she plays the role of Michelle Williams, in a way that only Michelle Williams could.
The villain, Carlton Drake, played by Riz Ahmed, is serviceable, but his fighting powers are no different to Venom’s, making him yet another example of Marvel’s trope of the hero fighting against a villain with the same powers.
While it’s no Spider-Man 3, Venom is still lightyears away from the quality of Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film has already made $461 million on its $116 million budget which means that we’ll be getting a sequel, which is teased in the post-credits scene. Great.