directed by Ruben FleischerWhat happens when an ethical decision causes you to lose everything? Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is an investigative reporter with a show, a girlfriend, and a home, when he decides to look into the operations of a ruthless billionaire. Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is as rich as he is heartless. One of Carlton's rockets recently crashed as the astronauts returned to Earth with strange samples, one of which escaped containment.
Eddie is a likeable guy with a sense of humour, even when circumstances have brought him low. He's generous to the homeless, and thoughtful. But after his stubborn actions have got him kicked out of his job and blacklisted from further work, he is starting to feel hopeless and like a loser. Then he gets the chance to investigate Carlton Drake's company once more, and he ends up possessed by Venom, an alien symbiote whose abilities give him superpowers. Those powers come at a number of costs, as he ends up ravenously hungry and without complete control of his own actions.
This is very much the story of an ordinary person who becomes extraordinary, and a lot of the film's humour comes from Eddie's attempts to come to terms with that change. At the same time he has taken something from a powerful billionaire who is prepared to throw everything at getting it back. Lots of action scenes follow as Eddie tries to save the lives of test subjects, to evade the men hunting him, to evade the police, and to protect those he cares about. The stakes get higher, as is customary for this genre.
Another typical trope is the love interest. Anne (Michelle Williams) wants to move on from her relationship with Eddie, and has done, but Eddie can't and his aim is to win her back, never mind that she's in a relationship with the charming and pleasant Dr Dan Lewis (Reid Scott). I wasn't rooting for their relationship to restart, mostly because it seems too close to the woman-as-prize trope for comfort. Anne is an assertive lawyer and no shrinking violet, so it's disappointing to see her character used in the plot as if she's no more than a carrot to dangle at the end of Eddie's redemption arc.
And speaking of redemption, Venom is an antihero who enjoys biting people's heads off and causing mayhem, so he has his own journey to take. When not oozing out of Eddie or others like black oil, this shape-changer is a voice in Eddie's head which often urges Eddie to commit crazy, destructive acts. The dialogue between Eddie and Venom is a highlight, with Eddie trying to calm the monster within and Venom clearly enjoying the mischief he can make.
It makes for an amusing, fast-paced movie about a battle against corporate greed and murder. It's fairly shallow fun which deals almost as much with Eddie's attempts to pick himself up and to go back to something like a normal life as it does with the ethical struggles against an evil corporation. The film is funny, exciting, and quite a bit larger than life.
15th September 2020
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: Netflix streaming