Jekyll & Hyde
Venom has everything it needs to be a competent film and maybe even a fairly good one, but it fails at almost every turn. It’s inconsistent in its narrative, pacing, acting, and never fully commits to one satisfying direction. Similar to the duality in the personalities between Eddie Brock and the titular character of Venom, there seems to be two opposing sides of how to make this film and they never come together to entertain. Venom has one core aspect that holds it together in Tom Hardy’s performance but everything else slowly crumbles down around it.
The plot of the film is hard to pin down, but it comes to this: Eddie Brock finds himself bound to an alien symbiote calling himself Venom. Through this, Eddie must learn to find a balance between this personality and his own life while also trying to prevent more symbiotes from breaking out and causing harm.
While that is the plot, it isn’t presented in the best way. The movie goes through one really slow phase and then speeds up to its own conclusion. It takes approximately 55 minutes for Venom to actually show up in full costume and start causing damage in a movie that is an hour and 40 minutes not counting credits. That’s 55% of the movie where your protagonist isn’t featured…clearly a misstep.
The beginning slowly follows Eddie’s uninteresting love life, his job that he is supposedly the best at, and his eventual “downfall”.There is not intrigue, suspense, or action during these parts. It is very slowly paced that I legitimately forgot that I was watching a superhero movie and that I was watching a very sappy romantic comedy.
Once the symbiote does come in, the powers and interesting relationship between Eddie and Venom is cast aside for jokes and quips rather than anything of substance. Granted the movie does rely on this as the anchor that holds the film together in the second half.
Tom Hardy’s performance is dynamic, charming, and high energy. He is clearly having a fun time with this role and doing his best to show the duality of Eddie Brock’s personality. The dialogue and comedic timing he has with Venom is the core of the movie and provides some good entertainment in an otherwise meandering film.
The witty banter that exists in Eddie’s mind, while funny, doesn’t go any deeper than cheap, high schoolish humor. Venom can see into Eddie’s mind and influence a lot of the decisions he makes. Eddie has to learn to live with a constant different personality residing within him. There should be some great drama to mine from this to provide a deeper meaning to the movie and actually allow me to care about their relationship.
The sad thing is, I feel that is what the directors originally intended to do with the film but it was cut out and rushed just to make a shorter run time to sell tickets. As soon as Venom appears on screen and has two quick action scenes we are already at the finale of the film with Eddie and Venom apparently setting aside differences to work together when there was not much strife between them to make a partnership feel truly earned. The film skips over any meaning or substance and instead puts Venom on screen and has him call Eddie Brock names and try to influence his love life.
The other thing that annoys me about Venom is there is no explanation as to what he is, what he can do, or how he can do it. Eddie is simply embodied by this symbiote and finds he can climb really high and heal himself. Other than that, there isn’t a clear list of what makes him unique or why I should be invested in the action sequences.
And speaking of action sequences, they are far too minimal, choppy, and CGI heavy for me to truly be entertained. A motorcycle chase that occurs in the middle of the film goes on for far too long and does not have the same intensity as other chase scenes do. The camera constantly cuts between shots making the chase seem very inconsistent in how the audience is supposed to follow it. I was bored watching this chase, and it is one of two main action sequences in the movie.
When Venom does throw down to take out some SWAT guys or another symbiote monster, it is completely shrouded in darkness, not really making me feel in the action. I was confused as to what was happening and couldn’t really feel investment due to a lack of knowledge about the powers Venom has. The conflict he has with the bad guy too isn’t something to care about, and you can clearly see how things are going to end by the time they start fighting.
The supporting cast is also a mess with Eddie Brock’s love interest feeling unnecessary and a hindrance to the movie’s true potential. She reacts idiotically to situations around her and slow the movie to a halt when she is on screen. The villain in the movie is your typically one-dimensional sleazy take-over-the-world type of guy that we have seen in countless superhero movies before it. When are directors going to learn that if it doesn’t work in someone else’s superhero movies, it won’t work in theirs?
By the time the film wraps up, I was left with more questions rather than just being able to be entertained. Why are Venom and Eddie bonded together so well? What makes Venom unique from other symbiotes? Why does Eddie suddenly open up to having Venom within him? These questions and many more could have been answered in a properly done Venom movie but it doesn’t feel like I am ever going to get that.
What I did get was some good humorous relational banter between Eddie and Venom that makes about 15 minutes of the movie entertaining. Other than that, there is no substance or meaning to anything I was watching. The action sequences are dull and boring, the plot is super imbalanced, and the set up for a sequel is painful to watch thinking about how badly they screwed this up. I went in with low expectations and still came out disappointed; that’s never a good sign. With minimal screen time for Venom, this movie should have been called The Whiny Life of Eddie Brock. That would have been a better and more accurate title for this awful excuse for a film.