Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Director: Reuben FleischerAs far as superhero films go, Venom isn’t the poison pill that most recent DC films have been, but it’s still a universe away from Marvel (it should be noted here that Venom is actually a Marvel character, the rights of whom or which belong to Sony. Business amirite?).
I shan’t provide you with a synopsis of the film here, mostly because that would end up being more thought out than the actual film’s narrative but suffice to say Tom Hardy plays an investigative journalist who loses his job, fiancée (an ever-excellent Michelle Williams) and apartment after he gets fired for getting on the wrong side of a tech titan (his fiancée also loses her job as a result of his impetuousness, but this smidgeon a fact is brushed aside like a MeToo allegation). He then gets infected by an alien parasite (don’t ask) and becomes a superhuman/alien, shape-shifting entity with an unfortunate appetite for living things and the violence that usually accompanies such cravings.
The script is piecemeal, jumping from scene to sequence without bothering to provide connective tissue (and issues) between, with character motivations and intentions being squeezed into the last 45 minutes or so. The hour and a half preceding it is a rambling quasi-narrative of Eddie Brock the person and Venom, the Symbiote who so fantastically violates Said Brock’s personal space.And that is fine, if the intention of a film is to establish a foundation for a franchise. That’s exactly what Deadpool did, and nobody complained (too much) about it, because Deadpool wasn’t trying to save the world or anything, he was just on a revenge rampage, and so the makers had plenty of space to flesh out his character.
Speaking of ineffective villains, Riz Ahmed is disgustingly wasted as Carlton drake, the primary antagonist of most of the film until the apology of a final act. Moving beyond Sony’s pathetic pandering to the concept of diversity by casting a clearly South Asian man as the clearly Anglo-Saxon Carlton Drake, the film tries to portray their baddie as an evil Elon Musk (the script having been written before recent news events) but ends up seeming like a particularly obtuse middle manager with a penchant for trying (and failing) to inspire subordinates and random listeners with his Tedx-type speeches.
Thank deity of choice then for Tom Hardy. His Eddie Brock/Venom and their pitch-perfect ‘best frenemy’ dynamic is the only reason this film doesn’t have a mere one-star rating. Hardy, who’s made something of a career out of breathing life and personality into faceless/masked characters is in his element here (he also does Venom’s gravelly voice). And since the actor has signed off on two more Venom films, we can only hope the (different) makers of those films give Hardy more face(less) time.