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Venom (2018): A Wannabe Riggs and Murtaugh

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

In celebration of the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021), it’s about time to take a look back at the origin story about the symbiote and the human that he inhabits. Venom (2018) tells the tale of an alien that crashes on Earth and physically bonds with investigative reporter Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy). Together they come up with the great plan of being a crime fighting duo that must stop the evil Carlton Drake (portrayed by Riz Ahmed), CEO of a corporation known as the Life Foundation, before he and his symbiote, Riot, find more symbiotes to wipe out civilization.

This is a mixed bag of a movie. It has quite a bit going on, some not all that convenient to the film’s quality. The biggest issue is probably its pacing. The film sort of jumps right into everything with a spaceship crash and honestly doesn’t slow down a whole lot. While this can work for some movies, it doesn’t here in this case. It seems to rush important character interactions that make relationships seem genuine; Eddie Brock and Venom’s relationship was the biggest example of it: having evolved from hatred and confusion, to a mutual agreement, to Venom wanting to be a hero. While this is explained as Eddie being the cause, it is more confusing and jarring at this sudden character turn.

Another issue is its villains. Venom (2018) starts off with a symbiote surviving the spaceship crash and being rushed to a hospital only to break loose, only for the film to switch over to San Francisco for a decent chunk of the runtime. We forget this alien even exists until it seems to take over a little girl’s body in an airport heading to San Francisco, making us realize “Oh yeah, that thing still exists.” Let’s not forget the Life Foundation CEO, Carlton Drake. This man wanted to “save” the world by combining symbiotes and humans. Those were his motivations; these could have been complex character motivations if Riz Ahmed was given better writing. He wants to save the world, that’s all, no other reason. It was a completely missed opportunity for a Lex Luthor type; what with his God-Complex and twisted desire to save the world, it could’ve been interesting to see how Drake’s views contrasted with others around him if he were given more development.

Despite all of the misgivings of Venom (2018), I actually enjoyed watching this movie. There’s quite a few inventive fight sequences that are some of the better superhero fight scenes I've seen, for example, the motorcycle chase across San Francisco. But where this film really shines is Eddie and Venom’s relationship. Although it did get a rushed treatment, it still felt like a genuine bond between two exact opposites. They felt like Riggs and Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon (1989) at times, and the film was all the better for it. Tom Hardy excels at playing Eddie Brock and voicing Venom, believable being two different characters. Even with the negatives surrounding the positive aspects of Venom (2018), it is still a fun time.

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