MOVIE REVIEW – Venom, the symbiote-idiot of the Marvel universe, returns to possess Tom Hardy’s body and hunt another, more evil symbiote, who got under Woody Harrelson’s skin.
If the world of Venom were to expand in earnest one day, let’s hope that the hulking, insatiable appetite and an ever-grumbling alien creature that lives as a symbiote in Eddie Brock’s body gets a coherent script with better dialogue, more exciting characters and something more creative than the usual CGI battle we’ve seen dozens of times before – because the result was pretty lame the second time around.
“Mindlessness” in all areas
Well, let’s start with the “great” script, which Tom Hardy has partly put together this time. Bleeders picks up about a year and a half after the events of “Venom” when Tom Hardy’s investigative journalist Eddie Brock is living in San Francisco with a permanent “housemate”, the alien symbiote Venom, who is trapped in Eddie’s body, and vice versa. However, Venom occasionally slips partially out of Eddie’s body so they can fist fight face to face. Eddie and Venom spend much of their time arguing about what to have for dinner, and I kid you not: Venom wants a human brain but has reluctantly agreed to live on a diet of chicken and chocolate – at least for now.
But in this brainless movie, even he can’t find a brain.
Warning: the serial killer bites
Also, we are given a serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who wants to talk to Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) in prison because… “he likes him” and wants Brock to write about it. In reality, however, he wants to message Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris), another psychopath with special screaming abilities, through Brock. We’ll leave it at that (even Hardy couldn’t force it out of him as a screenwriter). Still, Brock’s supposedly declining journalistic career (of which we don’t see any scenes, by the way) could undoubtedly be boosted by his suddenly writing about Kasady, not to mention the fact that the bodies of the serial killer’s victims will at least be found. Then, however, in another encounter (which again makes no sense as to why Brock would even go for it), Kasady bites the journalist’s hand, tasting his blood, giving him an alternate, red, aggressive version of the symbiote Venom that lives inside him.
That’s about as far as the somewhat coherent scenario the Hardys have sweated together goes, anyway, because from here on out, it’s just Kasady and her symbiote running wild and disrupting the otherwise not very “idyllic” (but still contained) lives of Brock and his being, going on rampages, killing and rioting. We won’t describe the rest of the story, but it’s not hard to guess anyway – there’s a lot of fights between the two creatures.
The script is designed to get Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson to throw down at once simplistic and staggeringly idiotic. It’s Harrelson who’s better at it. However – Hardy somehow seems conspicuously bored and emotionless in situations where he would otherwise be given the opportunity to show off his much-vaunted acting skills. One such scene is when he is confronted that his ex-girlfriend is no longer going to come back to him, he stays with his boring current girlfriend, and Hardy doesn’t particularly resent this. In fact, he just comments with a wooden face.
More of the lame
When Venom hit theatres in 2018, it was pretty much panned by critics, but it really worked for me at the time, thanks to the film’s black humour and novelty power.
In fact, the only scenes that are meant to be funny are the ones we saw in the previous movie: Venom and his host Brock are constantly teasing each other and trashing Brock’s apartment in the process.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Venom 2 is that while the first film was refreshing despite its silliness, Tom Hardy’s action-comedy, the second film adds practically nothing to the first. By the second time around, this fistfight is like a microwaved day-old pizza.