Despite bad screenplay, Tom Hardy is the perfect Eddie Brock
Venom, the first spin-off in Sony’s Spider-Man universe without Spider-Man himself, was hindered by an inconsistent tone and slow pace, despite a stellar performance by Tom Hardy.Venom tells the story of journalist Eddie Brock, played by Academy Award-nominated actor Tom Hardy. Following a scandal, Brock attempts to revive his journalism career by moving to San Francisco, where his girlfriend, District Attorney Ann Weying, lives. He begins investigating the Life Foundation, led by Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed), who is secretly and illegally testing the relationship between humans and the alien species, the Symbiote.
However, when Brock comes into contact with one of the symbiotes, he acquires incredible superpowers and struggles to prevent the twisted being from controlling his body and committing murderous acts. This is how he becomes the anti-hero known as Venom. Drake also eventually bonds with another symbiote named Riot. In the comics, Venom has a reputation for being an ultra-violent character who bites people’s heads off. One would think a movie about a character as violent as Venom would be R-rated, but it isn’t. With Disney now owning Marvel, all movies must be PG-13, leaving out a handful of violent action scenes.
For a movie called Venom, there sure isn’t a lot of actual venom.
The symbiote only takes over Brock’s body 50 minutes into the movie and it happens too fast for the audience to see everything. The first real fight scene with Venom has him crack open a gas grenade, hiding his figure. Another fight scene, this time with Riot, goes by too fast for the audience to keep up. An R-rating could have solved this problem by giving the audience longer action scenes with more violence, while also showing Venom’s true nature. Additionally, Riot looks exactly like Venom—he is grey instead of black—making it hard to tell them apart during the fight scenes.
Another area where Venom falls short is the screenplay. As previously mentioned, the script takes too long to introduce the character and includes many forced gags. Several awkward moments in the story feel as though the scenes are supposed to make the audience laugh and make fun of Brock. This turns the dark comic book character into a goofball, hindering the tone the character is known for in favour of comedy.
The script is inconsistent, going from dark to humourous in every other scene, further preventing character development and simultaneously making you feel like you’re watching two completely different films.
However, where the movie really shines is Tom Hardy’s performance as Brock. For one, the character is a risk-taker. He went against his boss’s orders to ask a question that could destroy the Life Foundation. He ultimately paid the price for it; the Venom symbiote takes over his body, messes up his mind, convincing him to do bad things. Tom Hardy is the perfect Eddie Brock, as he balances his portrayal of a brave, demonic, alcoholic, crazy man. He understands Venom.
Riz Ahmed also delivers an excellent performance as Carlton Drake. Drake is a sadistic madman masquerading as an ambitious businessman who seeks to end all of the world’s problems. Ahmed balances these tones with ease and when Drake is taken over by Riot, he takes on another personality without overacting.
Overall, despite the bad screenplay, this is the movie to see for anyone looking for a better adaptation of Topher Grace’s Spider-Man 3 Venom.