Tom Hardy jumps ship from DC to Marvel to take the eponymous role in Ruben Fleischer’s sci-fi drama Venom, which is set to kickstart Sony’s superhero universe. The plot follows investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) who attempts to expose the corruption within corporations. He sets his journalistic sights upon scientist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) who is CEO of the Life Foundation research facility. Unfortunately, his daring methods cause a rift in his relationship with fiancée Anne (Michelle Williams) who works as an attorney for the bioengineering conglomerate. Whilst digging deeper into Drake’s controversial experiments, Brock becomes infected by an alien parasite that becomes his deadly alter-ego.
It’s obviously commonplace within the comic book genre for stories to be far-reaching, but in recent years Marvel have successfully established a tone that befits the fantasy elements of their movies. However, this narrative shifts erratically between monster horror, dull relationship drama, stoner comedy and ropey CGI action, without finding a solid footing throughout.
It’s no secret that Hardy is a charismatic force, but even his vast versatility cannot keep up with the absurdities at play. He and Williams muddle through amateurish schlocky dialogue that is unintentionally amusing to the point that it feels parodical in its delivery. The clunky storytelling typically builds to a showdown finale, but the poorly constructed third act battle is nothing more than a gooey mess.
Venom has a fascinating premise and an all-star cast but falls foul to Ruben Fleischer’s directionless direction and a substandard script. Without his hungry symbiote companion, Eddie Brock is charmless and empty. With him, the antihero is arguably worse. As powerful a presence as Tom Hardy can be with the right material, he’s nowhere near strong enough to carry this bloated schlub of a film.
See the trailer: