Review: Tom Hardy almost saved “Venom”


Cameron Coyle

Sony achieved middling success with “Venom,” its first attempt at a superhero movie since loaning the rights of Spider-Man back to Marvel Studios. It is the story of an anti-hero with an alien parasite.

Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy, is an investigative journalist who, while trespassing to get a scoop for a story, becomes one with a conscious gelatinous alien committed to overtaking Earth with other members of his species.

“Venom” avoids genericness because it borrows from so many other superhero movies, causing it to become an odd mash-up of its contemporaries. It has both cynical sarcasm and playful quips in scenes when Eddie confronts the fact he must learn how to live with a carnivorous alien parasite who’s sentient.

It also has hopeless moments when the audience must watch an alien decimate a naive homeless person for the sake of the underwhelming villain’s cruel scientific experiments.

These parts lead to tonal inconsistencies which often cancel any emotional traction the film was starting to make, or they cause the comedy to feel forced or awkward.

Tom Hardy’s charisma sometimes masks these blemishes, as he shows he’s always equally committed to a role, whether he’s working on a $150,000 or $150 million movie. His character is sporadic and inconsistent, just like the film. His movements are jerky and unpredictable with his speech cadence, showing with his energy and physical performance that Eddie always has something nagging at his psyche.

His dedication brings a charm to the character, even if it’s partly from the preposterousness that this amount of talent was channeled into a movie that doesn’t deserve such a performance.

There is consistency, however, in the film’s underwhelming action. When the parasite partially appears on Eddie to help him fight or maneuver, the CGI looks tackily added on, suddenly emerging from the back of his sweatshirt and quickly disappearing without any sign of coming through him.

The climactic fight scene at the end doesn’t pay off either, as it features two large aliens—one black, one grey—fighting on a metal bridge at night with overly-dim lighting. The large amount of monotone CGI rapidly moving around in a poor lit area is difficult and frustrating to follow.

Hardy causes “Venom” to have some enjoyable parts, but the film also hits multiple valleys throughout its runtime. Maybe wait to rent this one.

Grade: C