Venom, a film in which aliens known as a “symbiotes” crash-land on earth and take over human hosts, should be dark and twisted, especially if one knows the original content of the comics. However, instead of the R rated film we wanted, we got the Pg-13 film we deserved.
Set in San Francisco. Eddie Brock – portrayed by the talented Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises) – is an investigative journalist with an exceptional reputation. Brock is assigned to interview Carlton Drake, CEO of the villianous Life Foundation. Drake played by Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler, Rogue One : A Star Wars Story) has his sights set on moving the entire human race from earth, using the symbiotes and his resources as the head of his company. Ultimately Brock’s life takes a turn for the worst when he challenges the CEO about on going court cases regarding missing people.
The film starts when the menacing Venom comes out to play. With presentable CGI, an unusual car chase highlights the extent of the creature’s power once fused with the right human. Only after this chase do we see malicious Venom in full form, teeth and tongue to match.
Tom Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock/Venom is the standout of a film that doesn’t stand out. The supporting cast is impressive, boasting the accomplished Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman, Manchester by the Sea) along with Ahmed. However, both are let down by a lazy and predictable script.
Venom tries too hard to imitate the successful Deadpool format of an anti-hero with humour. Although it has its moments such as Tom Hardy biting the head off a lobster, it doesn’t reach the same level of the Ryan Reynolds vehicle or even Zombieland, the cult classic directed by Ruben Fleischer who was at the helm of this project. The action throughout is fine, though the final fight between Brock/Venom and Drake/Riot (the symbiote who merges with the baddie) is anticlimactic causing the film to just fizzle out.
That said, there are Easter eggs for the die-hard comic book fans, such as the line: “Eyes, lungs, pancreas – so many snacks, so little time,” – taken straight from Amazing Spider Man issue number 347, as well as an intriguing post-credits scene.
With a sequel planned featuring Woody Harrelson as famous villain Carnage – it would be ill-advised to follow the same Pg-13 route. Venom is meant to be dark and sick. He eats people’s heads. Here, we hear him doing it but we never see the twisted nature of the parasite. Instead Venom is “a loser”, the reason why he gets on with Eddie Brock. Ironically it sees himself in him.
The one reason to see this film is simple. Tom Hardy. He plays the conflicted Brock/Venom perfectly, turning the movie from a dark anti-hero story into a weird buddy flick. It’s because of him Venom is entertaining so if you wanted to relax and not take a film too seriously then it may be for you.