Venom is an anomaly in the Marvel universe, comparable perhaps to Deadpool, though there is no meta/fourth wall breaking crap here. Like Deadpool, the kill-count is high, but Venom is very different in how it executes its violence, often in ways that would make T-1000 proud.
The unwilling host Eddie, a bipolar Tom Hardy, also adds to the humour, clearly establishing this as a film that does NOT take itself seriously. It has a dry, dark, sarcastic sense of humour that is incredibly funny; truly unlike all the garbage Marvel churns out on their conveyor belt; films that personally have all morphed into an interchangeable mess.
It is refreshing then to have a film that isn’t trying to be serious while cracking wise in the most user-friendly ways possible. There is no PC-friendly shite to be found here. A child’s film this is not. Most importantly, the level of self deprecation, the intentionally exaggerated experience revels in its own absurdity. Even the CGI is funny in its awfulness. But Tom Hardy is front and centre of the lunacy, channelling his inner Charlie Bronson with a dash of methamphetamine.
Funnily enough, before this action happens, he is first portrayed as, well… a bit of a loser.
After prodding the villain Drake and his ‘Life Foundation’, with no evidence to back him up, he is promptly fired as a reporter. Six months go by as he walks aimlessly through life, now apathetic to the problems of the world. This soon changes due to two events. The first is him witnessing the robbery of a shop he frequents. He doesn’t try to intervene and when he asks the woman if she is alright, she simply says, “Life hurts Eddie”.
The next time he is in this store, a doctor who works at Drake’s facility approaches him. At first he tries to shake her away, but she insists that what is happening at the Life Foundation needs to be exposed.
He agrees to at least take her business card, which eventually gets him into the bowels of the foundation itself. The irony of that name – The Life Foundation – is priceless, as Eddie soon sees death everywhere he looks. Eventually he treads too deeply and a symbiote shoves its way into Eddie, as he of course is the perfect host for symbiosis to occur – what Drake has been trying to achieve.
And so: Venom is born.
Amusingly, it takes a while for Eddie to realise this. Tom Hardy over-acts with ridiculous results; a scene involving his neighbour and another in a restaurant are unforgettable as they are so over the top and… Extremely silly. Which is why this movie is so great, as it knows it is silly and turns that volume to eleven.
Eventually Venom starts talking to Eddie inside his head, and Eddie talks back, aloud, as it finally clicks. Their back and forth again has seriousness in the very back of the film’s mind. Another jolly part of the film is a doctor diagnosing Eddie as having a parasite.
Venom doesn’t appreciate being labelled a parasite.
The action scenes are absurdly fun, as Venom and Eddie converse while they are attempting to skewer enemies. Some of it is poorly shot and hard to see, especially the CGI-filled climax, but why care when Venom occasionally narrates the violence? While Eddie sometimes still looks like the loser he is, and an unwilling host to the violence? This is a fabulously exaggerated comical flick, and almost all of this revolves around Hardy’s incredibly fun performance. If Marvel had cast anyone else, this almost certainly would have been one of their worst creations. A hard feat.
Two short of a sixer