With Peter Parker on loan to a better team, Sony’s scramble to make their cinematic universe rages on after their bumbling effort with the Amazing Spider-Man/Sinister Six effort that ended the same way Gwen Stacy did. As a result, Venom – one of Spidey’s greatest foes – gets a solo gig as the anti-hero, that’s ultimately anti-entertaining, as well.
It’s a match made in heaven that ultimately feels the opposite, as Tom Hardy takes on the character of Eddie Brock, the news-hungry reporter who, after finding a scandal beneath the supposedly revolutionary science company, the LIFE Foundation, is infected with an alien organism known as Venom. Here is where the film is begging for Hardy to take the reins and go a bit nutty as he tries to control himself and the alien organism that is living inside him rent-free.
We’ve already seen him play two sides of the twisted coin to an extent in Legend, but this feels more of a tougher sell just because it’s not embracing the material it’s working from. Venom is a body-munching anti-hero of the Jekyll and Hyde variety, which would’ve been an excellent opportunity for Hardy to embrace the horror. Instead, we get a skittish, whispering fearful vessel that feels present in neither Venom or Brock. When the beast does break free, there are signs of potential but not enough to see Hardy’s solo double act bear fruit.
None of the supporting cast kicks in as the tepid hero story unfolds, either. Michelle Williams as Brock’s on and off girlfriend Anne has zero chemistry with our apparent hero, and the always welcome Riz Ahmed is lost as a bland baddie whose plan to beat his adversary can be seen from a mile off. Needless to say, if you’ve grown tired of seeing two similar-looking, super-powered beings beat the computer-generated snot out of one another, you should prepare yourself.
Of course, regardless of the standard that’s dished out with this is irrelevant now, as with a large 800 million box-office result has certified that Hardy’s inky black alter-ego is coming back for seconds. We can only hope that there’s a bit more synchronicity with the source material and we get a tougher Venom than the tepid version that made its début.