Venom is a big dumb mess of a movie. Yet for some reason, I found a smile on my through most of it. Most of that is due to how hard Tom Hardy is committing to everything. No matter how ridiculous or stupid what he is doing or saying is, he goes all in. It doesn’t fix the movies numerous flaws, but it does turn a mess into a watchable mess.
Venom does a decent job of creating an origin story for the character minus the comic origin’s primary character. Everyone knows that Venom is a Spider-Man character, but Spider-Man was not available for this movie. So they had to excise him from the origin. That actually works decently well. It gives room for Venom to the be the protagonist, though they try to shove a villain turns hero arc in there that doesn’t work at all. Here, Venom is a alien organism that was found by a privately funded space shuttle. They brought back several samples, but the shuttle crashes and one of them escapes. The owner of the shuttle, played by Riz Ahmed, begins research on the aliens. Meanwhile, Eddie Brock (Hardy) gets ready to interview Ahmed on his news show. He confronts Ahmed with unsubstantiated information about his dangerous experiments and manages to lose both his job and his fiance. Six months later, while called to investigate Ahmed again, Brock ends up bonded with one of the alien parasites, which takes over his body.
The plot is pretty clear, but it is also nonsense. Brock just happens to be able to perfectly bond with the symbiote. It is killing him, until its not. It wants to destroy the world, until it doesn’t. It wants live food. Or tater tots? The villains’ motivations are more clear. At least partly. One character is already pretty villainous for no given reason. There is an escalation that is not really shown, he goes from ignoring regulations to out and out murder.
I’ve heard some people praise the action, but aside from one decent car chase, I found it to be pretty incomprehensible. I guess there are rules or limits to Venom’s powers, but other than a very specific weakness he seems immune to pretty much everything. So the action is just a black CGI blur throwing dudes around and having bullets bounce off of him. Sometimes it two CGI nothings whaling on each other to little effect.
The only thing that keeps this movie watchable is just how hard Tom Hardy commits to all of this nonsense. He goes full force into Eddie Brock, overcommitting to his investigative reporter schtick, then to him in his fallen state and then to him being possessed by an alien parasite. His performance is the one thing in the movie that completely entertaining. It is bonkers and weird, but it is completely watchable.
Venom isn’t the worst superhero movie I’ve seen. It has one genuinely entertaining performance amidst a generally pretty poor movie that sets it above a lot of the dreck from about decade or so ago. I can’t in good conscious recommend it to anyone, but I don’t regret seeing it.