Venom movie review: Tom Hardy's charisma can't make up for predictable narrative, unimpressive action sequences

If Venom was supposed to be an experiment it is a failed one because it just isn’t experimental enough.

Mihir Fadnavis October 05, 2018 12:41:44 IST


Venom is quite an odd watch. It’s got all the elements – a good cast, a director with a decent background, a twist on the superhero narrative, and a big-ish budget – and yet it just doesn’t render enough serviceable entertainment.

So here we have Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an investigative journalist snooping into the shady affairs of Scientist CEO Man Carlton Drake. Brock finds out something that he shouldn’t have and faces the consequences. In an effort to salvage the situation, he snoops a little more and stumbles across a secret experiment that Drake is conducting, that involves ‘symbiotes’ from outer space. Of course, Brock is then taken over by one of the symbiotes and turns into the snarling Venom. He then has to use his new powers to stop Scientist Man from doing something that, hold your breath, will end the world as we know it.

Venom movie review Tom Hardys charisma cant make up for predictable narrative unimpressive action sequences

Tom Hardy (L) in and as Venom. Image from Youtube.

If Venom was supposed to be an experiment it is a failed one because it just isn’t experimental enough.

Venom is too by-the-books as a superhero genre, too predictable and clichéd as a narrative and doesn’t have any striking action sequences to redeem itself. There’s a glut of CGI, but the scenes are choppy and messy, with the editing sucking out all semblance of coherence. Moreover the biggest reason people come to watch these big tentpole action-adventures is the action and adventure, but director Ruben Felischer’s glossy visuals are handicapped by a sloppy script that renders neither fun action nor memorable adventure. There’s only so much charismatic strangeness that Hardy can conjure to make up for the sloppy storytelling, and Riz Ahmed’s baddie is as banal as they come.

It’s also not very clear what this film wants to be.

On one hand it makes bold statements about how supervillains are cool and how this is a new kind of film, and yet everything that happens in the film follows a textbook superhero origin story, with Venom actually becoming a ‘good’ vigilante by the end. Are we to understand that just because Venom kills people he’s a villain? It seems the guys who made this film have never seen the Punisher or Deadpool movies. Then there’s odd factor of the MCU — where Spiderman exists and probably a different Venom would show up in that universe. To have a parallel version of Venom that is totally detached from the MCU is not just strange but unnecessary, and it needed to be a very good film to justify its existence. Who knows, maybe the Into the Spidervese animated film coming out later this year could fill in the gaps.

There is of course a mid credits scene to lead in to a character all Venom fans have been waiting for, but considering how dead on arrival this film is the chances of a sequel seem slim. One expected Venom to right the wrongs of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3, but it does other wrong things instead. The hope remains that a team of stronger, ballsier creative heads will put together a decent Venom adaptation on screens some day. Today, unfortunately is not that day. You’re better off playing the new Spiderman PS4 game instead.

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