Venom, directed by Ruben Fleischer, is as bad as you were probably expecting it to be. A nonsensical, uninteresting plot. A tone that sees the film never knowing what type of experience it wants to offer. A total lack of characters or development. Terrible, incomprehensible action. Pretty much across the board, Venom is a film that simply and unfortunately fails. Not even the manic charisma of Tom Hardy can rescue the film from leaving you bored and frustrated. Well, let’s get on with the (autopsy) review and explore just exactly where this film goes so wrong.
Investigative journalist, Eddie Brock – played by Tom Hardy – gets himself wrapped up with an organisation known as ‘Life’ and its CEO, Carlton Drake – played by Riz Ahmed – who is an untrustworthy man who hides his true intentions very well. In an attempt to expose Carlton Drake and his company, Eddie Brock ends up getting infected with a parasite known as Venom and the two become linked. Eddie, now imbued with superhuman abilities, finds himself on the run and with an overpowering voice controlling him when it wants.
Where to even begin with Venom? The film is in every way bad, but should that really come as a surprise? I think immediately after Sony announced this film, no one was really eager for it. Why do a standalone Venom film without Spider-Man and also completely disconnect it from a now well-established, massively loved interpretation of Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Yes, Tom Hardy being attached to play the characters of Eddie Brock and Venom is solid casting and certainly raised my interest in the project slightly, but for the most part – knowing Sony’s track record with superhero movies, or just movies in general, I had no faith that this film would be good, which was furthered after the trailers came out.
Venom feels like the type of superhero movie we got in the early 2000’s, before Marvel came along with Iron Man and showed everyone how superheroes should be handled on the big screen. This film feels like it had a team who in the beginning had some interesting ideas, and who tried to make something different, only for the executives to step in, butcher the film in an editing room and then push it out the door (along with an obnoxious marketing campaign) hoping what they had would at least recoup the budget and somehow warrant a sequel.
It’s clear from the very beginning that any hint (or hope) of a consistent tone would never occur. It feels as if the film at some points wants to be like Deadpool; it wants to be edgy and say bad words and have audiences totally won over by the lowbrow comedy. And then at other times it wants to be a serious, violent film that shocks you with disturbing scenes and a megalomaniac villain who speaks as if he thinks himself to be God.
This is a movie that’s continually all over the place. It never finds a rhythm, it never feels like a consistent film where it has a clear vision, where it knows what is is and how it wants to express itself. Watching Venom made for a bumpy, awkward journey that always had my experience with it feeling confusing or frustrating. What’s very clear to see is that Venom is a film that got eviscerated in the editing room – a point I feel I might be circling back to often during this review.
It’s not just the tone that’s confusing though, Tom Hardy’s performance is also a little confusing. His performance is… different. What I’d say is the primary issue with it is that it feels like Hardy is acting in a different movie from everyone else. When you look at all the performances in Venom, it’s a smorgasbord of tonally different characters who feel like they’re taking part in very different movies. Eddie Brock and Venom (Tom Hardy) are in a buddy comedy, while Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is in a sci-fi movie with hint of theology coursing through his awkward dialogue. This is the case across the board. Once again, it’s a film with no consistency.
These tonally varied characters would probably work pretty well in their respective genres. Venom and Eddie Brock were at times enjoyable to watch banter back and forth. There could have been something enjoyable there had the film run with it, rather than cramming it in with a host of different ideas.
When it came to Venom and Eddie Brock, I found myself in an awkward situation where I felt I was waiting a long time for Venom to show up; I was desperate for the film to get its establishing of everything wrapped up (mainly because it was so uninteresting and felt as if it dragged on for too long) and finally get to the fun of Venom running around causing mayhem. But when it finally came time and he did show up, it was like a balloon being slowly deflated in front of me. It was such an underwhelming introduction and that feeling then continued throughout the rest of the film.
The primary issue with Venom is that he just doesn’t work as the lead character of a film. Venom needs a character of good intention to balance out his evilness. Someone who he can bounce off of and through their actions and their story we can explore further into Venom as a character. Shining a light directly on him and trying to make him a semi-good guy isn’t interesting. I couldn’t tell you one defining quality that I found to be memorable or intriguing about Venom, and the same can be said for Eddie Brock, who mostly feels like an empty vessel waiting to be filled with something interesting.
When it comes to the plot… there’s… barely one. Carlton Drake has your usual villainous plan that’s silly and lacking in anything interesting. It’s mainly just a film that has one note to its plot and it just keeps hitting on it over and over again. And it all leads to a horrendous third act where it was clearly mashed together from previously shot scenes and scenes that were re-shot later to fit the backwards narrative the studio had compiled in their heads. You are dropped quickly into the conclusion of the film without warning and then are given characters that completely shift in motivation and characteristics without explanation or context, and things just begin to happen because the script needs them to.
It all results in a boring, awful and incomprehensible CGI filled fight between two characters who you can’t tell the difference between. To say I was completely removed from the film at this point would be an understatement. The finale reminded me of the final act of the 2015 Fantastic Four film, that’s how bad it is.
Let’s just be honest and sum things up: This movie is bad! I can’t think if a single redeeming factor to it. Interestingly, I didn’t have a vitriolic hate for the movie; I didn’t feel insulted or angered by it. I was just bored and eager for it to be over. Since seeing the film, it has never once burst back into my memory and had me thinking about any particular scene or funny exchange between Eddie Brock and Venom. It is simply a nothing film that is truly unremarkable in every way.
I absolutely DO NOT recommend, Venom. It worries me already how much money this film has made, so please don’t go see this movie. Don’t support it. Don’t cause there to be another one. It is in no way good enough to justify a sequel and your time would be better spent doing anything else.
If you did have the misfortune of seeing Venom, what are your thoughts on it, and beyond that, what did you think if my review of it? Let me know in the comments section down below. If you liked what you read then please consider following both/either my blog itself, and also/or my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – that would be great! I’ll leave you now by offering you my sincere thanks for taking the time to read my silly little review on this silly little blog. Thank you and have a fantastic day!