Director: Ruben Fleischer | 112 minutes | action, horror | Actors: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Marcella Bragio, Woody Herelson, Jenny Slate, Riz Ahmed, Mac Brandt, Ron Cephas Jones, Michelle Lee, Melora Walters, Sope Aluko, Reid Scott, Sam Medina, Donald K. Overstreet, Scott Haze, William W. Barbour Christian Convery
A mysterious alien symbiote is taken to Earth for research and bonds with humans. The creature that arises develops eternal hunger coupled with a preference for human flesh. This basic plot will not come as much of a surprise to many horror and thriller fans. Yet “Venom” manages to amaze the viewer. The reason? This isn’t a horror movie or thriller, it’s a buddy comedy.
Admittedly, this tone cannot be seen throughout the movie. The atmosphere changes several times throughout the film. Before the symbiote we come to know as Venom bonds with journalist Eddie Brock, we see Brock’s life completely collapse in a short space of time. Due to stubborn stupidity, he loses his job and his fiancé in two scenes, lasting about two minutes in total. Characteristic of the emotional standard in this film is that there is no room for Brock to deal with this blow. After a reaction of a few seconds, the next six months are skipped. The subsequent scenes about Eddie’s life show the emotional impact of that period, but it still feels rushed.
Despite the hurried pace, the film remains upright in the beginning. Only one person is responsible for this; Tom Hardy. He knows how to keep a good balance between Eddie’s upright character and the drama that unfolds around him. Then, as soon as Venom (whose voice was spoken by Hardy himself) has bound himself to him, he knows how to respond masterfully to his own playing. As an infected human he brings a hilarity that makes the film considerably lighter, although many comic book fans may appreciate this less.
“Venom” has many problems, which may be explained by the lengthy production process. The first scripts for a Sony Pictures movie about Venom are from 2007, and it shows. Characters like Anne (Eddie’s fiancé) and Carton Drake (the villain) feel like they’re from a totally different movie than Eddie’s character. The producers could not visibly draw a clear line in the direction that Venom had to go, making the result quite unclear.
“Venom” is therefore a mess. The production has not been able to draw a clear line, where the storyline and several characters have become victims. Nevertheless, the whole works. Tom Hardy knows how to completely wrap the audience and the chemistry between Eddie and Venom (so in fact between Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy) splashes off the screen. Without his performance, the film collapses like a house of cards.
With a new endearing antihero, Sony may have a new chance at its own superhero universe in Venom, but for the future the production team will have to make clear choices.