10-word review: T-Hardy’s great as an anti-hero but not as a journalist.
The skinny: Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a journalist who was disgraced after investigating claims that Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is involved in malpractice. He loses his job and his fiancée, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) but gains an extra-terrestrial being called Venom.
Here be spoilers…
What we like: Tom Hardy plays manic really well. You see evidence of that in Bronson (full-out manic); Peaky Blinders (menacing manic); even in Locke (restrained manic), where the entire movie is just of Hardy driving in a car, while his life crumbles around. In this outing, Hardy plays a man who plays host to an alien symbiote called Venom so there’s a lot of back-and-forth between him and the voice in his head. His reluctance to go along with the Venom symbiote adds a layer of slapstick to an otherwise gritty film.
We also like how his prehensile tongue unconsciously looks like a penis thus making many theatregoers slightly uncomfortable.
What we didn’t like: Tom Hardy plays an investigative journalist trying to break the story on Carlton Drake’s use of human test subjects. So, the first thing that Hardy did when he’s interviewing him is STRAIGHT-UP ASK HIM ABOUT HIS USE OF HUMAN TEST SUBJECTS? Bro, do you even investigate? Maybe try warming him up with a few softball questions or even better: get actual evidence before confronting him?
The story is weak. Hardy said that 40 minutes were cut from the film so we have to assume those were 40 minutes of plot and character development. Gone to reveal glaring plot holes like a subplot of an escaped symbiote (from the beginning of the film) travelling from body-to-body, country-to-country, and finally reaching Carlton Drake’s lab, only not to kill him but to merge with him? But why? You arrive at the same conclusion if said symbiote escapes from its containment unit at the lab and merge with him, thus saving you runtime to keep, at least, some of the cut plot to keep the film coherent.
And Riz Ahmed, who is phenomenal in The Night Of, deserves better with his role. It started out with promise but in the end, his antagonist, like most movie antagonists, is reduced to a snarling, bloviating killer.
Also, why did the Venom symbiote called itself Venom? It sounds like that one guy you know in Secondary School who asks that he be referred to as Mad Dog because it sounds tough but he actually sounds like he’s trying too hard because nicknames are what people give you and not something that you come up with.
What to look out for: Since this is a Marvel movie, keep an eye out for the ubiquitous Stan Lee cameo and also stay for the mid-credit scenes; one of them that sets up a potential sequel and another that is a preview for another movie.
Venom is now out in theatres.