Tom Hardy is already signed to star in two more “Venom” films. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing)
How bad is “Venom” exactly? If it were the first movie someone was to see Tom Hardy in, they would probably be wondering how someone with such a bad eye for scripts could ever become such a popular movie star.
While trying to uncover the sinister behavior of scientist and Life Foundation leader Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is infected by a symbiote known as Venom. When Drake discovers what has happened, Brock and Venom must work together to survive the ordeal that ensues.
The main issue with “Venom” is its tone, which fluctuates all over the place and never really lands on one that might work. There are elements of superhero action, elements of horror and elements of comedy all rolled into this two-hour origin story. Those all go together as well as toothpaste and orange juice does.
Take the premise for this movie, for example. An extraterrestrial creature takes refuge inside of our hero and he begins to experience bodily changes and hear the creature’s voice in his head. Combined with the fact that the creature is a goo monster with razor sharp teeth and a creepy smile, this points towards the possibility of body horror, which would work and be an interesting way to do parts of the film. Instead, the film goes the comedic route with these scenes. Brock wackily chows down on frozen tater tots and a rotisserie chicken that was tossed in the garbage and reacts with comical shrieks of, “Who said that?” when Venom first starts speaking to him.
It also does not help that Hardy himself does not seem to be taking the role seriously, and is just hamming it up every chance he gets. In fact, the performance is so bad it is probably the worst performance from a high profile actor in a major motion picture since Tom Cruise in “The Mummy,” and it should earn Hardy a Golden Razzie nomination for worst actor. Though, in Hardy’s defense, it at least makes the movie somewhat watchable as he just goes along with whatever the script calls for, including going into a fancy restaurant and sitting down in the lobster tank, in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. Apparently Hardy is just so talented that his performance is simultaneously the best and worst thing in the movie.
From the description above, it should be obvious that Hardy was wasted in the role. So were the other actors, especially Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed. Williams in an accomplished actress with four Oscar nominations and Ahmed has shown promise as an actor from his role in “Nightcrawler.” If these actors had been given a better script and actual characters to portray, they probably could have helped the movie succeed. Instead, all the cast has to offer is Tom Hardy being overly ridiculous to the point where some of the movie’s flaws might be missed as the audience laughs at his antics.
So, what bad script are these talented actors not able to work from exactly? The answer is an incredibly inconsistent one. For example, the rules are established about what the symbiotes
need to do to survive: find a host that they can meld with. There is no established rule of what exactly makes someone able or unable to meld with a symbiote, so this rule is used with plot convenient ease. So much so that one symbiote manages to find a host it can survive in on its first try once it gets to Earth, and then easily finds new hosts every time it needs one.
When the best thing about a movie is that the main actor did a bad job with their role, it is a bad sign.
Final Grade: D