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While Tom Hardy is no stranger to superheroes, he’s also a decidedly defiant movie star. He’s made a name for himself in plenty of impressive independent films, in supporting roles in big-budget blockbusters, and more, but his lead role in Marvel and Columbia’s new film Venom is something entirely different. Hardy tends towards the offbeat in the films in which he stars, so in some ways, the weirdness on display in Venom is no surprise. What is a surprise is how sorely let down Hardy is by the rest of the film, which seems unwilling to aim as high and swing as big as he is.

In Venom, Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, a crusading journalist in San Francisco who’s made a name for himself in a show that would be right at home on the Vice network. But Brock pushes back against the wrong interview subject, billionaire scientist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), and ends up losing his job and his fiancee Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) in the process. With the help of one of Drake’s underlings, Brock does some further secretive investigation on the side; in doing so, he inadvertently gets infected by an alien symbiote known as Venom, which turns him into a monstrous creature with massive superpowers of strength, speed, and more.

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