The Marvel anti-hero and powerful nemesis to Spider-Man has come to the big screen with Tom Hardy leading the way.
Eddie Brock is a reporter who dishes dirt all over San Francisco with a successful news show. In addition, he is engaged to up-and-coming lawyer Anne Weying. When Eddie is asked to interview Carlton Drake, the head of the Life Foundation, he knows that Anne is investigating the same company and looks into her files, so he can use the program as a means to have Drake address the accusations involved in a lawsuit. Eddie ends up losing both the program and Anne when Drake complains to the network about Brock’s questioning.
Six months later and Eddie is down and out, living in a small apartment. He has a friend in homeless woman Maria, who confides in him. However, one day, Eddie runs into Dr. Dora Skirth, who works at the Life Foundation. She warns Eddie that Drake has been kidnapping homeless people and making them guinea pigs in an experiment involving a strange alien symbiote material that could be the next stage of evolution. During an impromptu investigation, Eddie finds that Maria has become Drake’s latest but upon rescuing her, the symbiote has transferred to Eddie. Eddie soon finds himself hearing a voice in his head and having abilities that he never imagined having. He becomes Venom and with his newfound powers, he plans to stop The Life Foundation and Drake in an attempt to redeem himself and show his new other half that there is good in the world.
Venom has been one of the biggest villains in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery since his debut in 1988. It is only fitting that three decades later, a proper film would be done to show not only Venom as the badass that he is, but instead of a complete villain, make him an anti-hero using the storyline Lethal Predator as the basis for the film. While Venom made his live action debut in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, the character was met with disdain based on the performance of Topher Grace as Eddie Brock.
Flash forward eleven years later and enter Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock. This is not the first time Hardy took on a comic book character and his iconic role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises proves he has the ability to tackle any role to perfection and this proves his further status as a capable comic book film actor. As Eddie Brock, Hardy goes from being a somewhat cocky news reporter to one of disgrace, leading him to a down and out life.
Hardy perfects the role but also voicing the titular symbiote as well, doing a great job at the “double role” when Venom gets inside Eddie’s head, which allows Eddie to at first be scared then more confident during one of the action scenes, which lead to the first full transformation of the character. All while Venom engages the viewers in some witty one-liners that nearly make him just as smart-alecky as his comic book nemesis, Spider-Man.
Michelle Williams makes the most of her screen time as Anne, Eddie’s ex-girlfriend who our hero still pines for and while she is in a new relationship with a local doctor, Eddie does accept it and even asks for his help, causing Venom a “parasite”. Riz Ahmed does a pretty good job as the mastermind Carlton Drake, with a few over the top moments that doesn’t hinder any of the film so much. However, in a more positive twist, Drake has a little trick up his sleeve with merging with the powerful symbiote known as Riot. There are many twists in the film in terms of the symbiote that keep the viewer engaged and all leads to a great climactic finale. Not to mention a mid-credit sequence that will unleash the guaranteed sequel.
In conclusion, Venom is a fun ride of a comic book anti-hero with Tom Hardy giving a fun and edgy performance as both Eddie Brock and the voice of the Spider-Man nemesis, with the latter giving some witty one-liners and some fun action to fill the mode for the start of Sony’s Spider-Verse universe, followed by the successful animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
WFG RATING: B+
Sony Pictures presents in association with Marvel and Tencent Pictures. Director: Ruben Fleischer. Producers: Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, and Matt Tolmach. Writers: Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel; based on the Marvel Comics character created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane. Cinematography: Matthew Libatique. Editing: Maryann Brandon and Alan Baumgarten.
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters, Peggy Lu, Sope Aluko, Stan Lee, Mac Brandt.