Tom Hardy’s latest foray into the comic-book genre (the last in theaters was Ant-Man and the Wasp) allows for plenty of unruly outrageous shenanigans as the eponymous, alien-invaded character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, previously seen in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (played by Topher Grace opposite Tobey Maguire’s web-slinger). But, director Ruben Fleischer can’t exert anti-Superhero excitement into a discordant horror/comedy like he didn’t in the zany, if more inviting Zombieland.
Less input from the Disney-based comic behemoth studio proves destructive to Venom where the dramatically dynamic actor of The Dark Knight Rises and Locke, as well as The Revenant and Dunkirk gets to engage witty, villainous elasticity to little avail. Its conclusion is reminiscent of a notable James Cameron sci-fi pic and 2008 The Incredible Hulk which never spawned any sequels. In trying to locate a comfortable medium to intensely support its rating (part of its pre-release controversy, not mitigated by what the English actor, film producer and former model said recently when asked about his favorite part of the finished product) the result is more gimmicky than sly in service of a tattered narrative even if a hardy Hardy gamely traverses the edges of what, at times, may feel like dark cartoonish territory (for those who remember The Mask).
Hardy’s San Francisco determined reporter Eddie Brock is onto Riz Ahmed’s banal super-rich tycoon, Carlton, for his shady space-related shady professional leanings. The investigation against prevailing taste leaves him jobless and dumped by lawyer fiancée Anne (a stressed, droll, but underused Michelle Williams of I Feel Pretty, All The Money in the World) when an interdependent alien organism retrieved by one of Carlton’s unmanned spacecraft abruptly affixes to Eddie, a hesitant host to a very harmful creature. A morphing of a globule into a ten-foot frightening monstrous ferocity with cold-blooded eyes and accumulated teeth.
The internal physical disruption for Eddie after the initial voices from the parasitic force lets Hardy embrace off-the-wall lunacy to occasional high-spirited, eerie effect. Fleischer demonstrates a penchant to stage a decent action set-piece, particularly a chase interlude on the up-and-down Bay City roadways, but nothing really flourishes from a Jekyll and Hyde scenario as a mutual understanding is important to curtail Carlton’s prowling minions. Venom finally does have a swirling, rambunctious antic within the symbiotic dynamic that looks eager to latch onto a better genre example evoking sinister impulses with jocularity. Though it’s unable to split the difference with devious distinction like Wade Wilson from Deadpool in its uncontrollable flailing to be an absorbingly snarky depiction alien invasion.