Sometimes, it is possible to like a movie that isn’t good. I think that’s where I land with Venom.
So much about this movie doesn’t work. The action is bland, the villain is dumb and non-threatening, there is another “save the world” storyline that never really feels like it has any stakes, and it’s just an overall bad script. But somehow, I still found myself enjoying it at times.
I’ll start with the good:
Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock is easily the best part about this movie. He obviously cares about this character and is actually trying to give a good performance. If Sony had gone with another actor – say, I don’t know… Topher Grace, for instance – I don’t think there would be any good reasons to see this. Even with his inexplicable accent, he really does a good job.
The second half of the movie is also quite fun and humorous. Once Eddie is infected with the symbiote, his relationship with Venom becomes interesting and entertaining. They have many back and forth moments and it can get to be really funny.
But the humor and tone seem out of place. For a movie that seems to be going for an anti-hero vibe, the character of Venom is too endearing and likeable. He just doesn’t seem evil, no matter how many times he talks about biting off someone’s head. This is reminiscent of Suicide Squad, where it’s supposed to be about the bad guys for a change, but they end up doing a lot of good things that doesn’t make them seem like villains, or even anti-heroes.
That gets to the biggest problem I had with the movie. The character motivations are paper thin, in just about every instance. Much of what sets the plot in motion seems drastic and overdone, just so that the story can get going. The only character who has any real motivation is Eddie, who wants to save lives, but that’s as far as it goes.
The movie also takes way too long to get to anything that actually has to do with Venom himself. We get a lot of alien and symbiote talk, but Eddie doesn’t even come into contact with it until about the midway point. Everything else that is going on is not nearly interesting or important enough to carry the movie prior to that point.
A big part of what makes this the case is that the characters outside of Eddie just aren’t interesting at all. They’re poorly written and poorly-acted, making them bland and boring. At a time where we’ve been getting complex and even sympathetic antagonists, Riz Ahmed’s Carlton Drake is just evil for the sake of being evil. And Michelle Williams, who plays Eddie’s ex-fiancé Anne, just seems like she doesn’t want to be there.
Venom isn’t an awful movie, but it certainly isn’t good, either. It doesn’t even have quite enough good to make it totally worth watching. This just feels like a movie from a different era that happens to be just decent enough to entice someone like Tom Hardy.