I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I almost feel bad for Sony. Almost.
The entertainment giant spent the past winter watching Marvel Studios rule the multiplexes (during a gotdamn Omicron outbreak!) with their former, franchise cash cow Spider-Man, as Spider-Man: No Way Home raked in over a billion dollars worldwide as Marvel’s version of Peter Parker joined forces with their previous Peter Parkers. That’s gotta hurt. It’s like watching your exes have a threesome with a new dude and they’re having a way better time with him.
They may have lost Spider-Man, but they still got the Spider-Man universe (a universe they apparently also have to share with Disney). And they’ve been leaning in on making down-and-dirty flicks about the universe’s antiheroes, with two movies where Tom Hardy assumes the role of half-man/half-alien symbiote Venom and, soon, Dakota Johnson will play blind superheroine Madame Web. (Since this movie will also co-star Euphoria temptress Sydney Sweeney, Sony is also in the business of making comic-book movies fanboys can finally use as masturbatory material.)
At the moment, the latest antihero ride for Sony is Morbius, at long last hitting theaters after a couple years of postponed release dates, due to either the pandemic or other, more high-profile superhero films on the horizon. (With The Batman still killing it in theaters, perhaps Sony thought they’d pick up curious moviegoers by dropping their own bat guy a few weeks later.)
That pretty-ass pain in the ass Jared Leto plays the titular good/bad guy, a brilliant but physically handicapped doctor who’s best known for making life-saving, Nobel Prize-winning, artificial blood. After rounding up a bunch of bats from Costa Rica, he creates a serum that’ll hopefully cure him and his best friend/benefactor Milo (former Doctor Who time lord Matt Smith) of their debilitating ailments.
Of course, when he gets injected with the serum, he gets all bloodthirsty and kills a bunch of mercenaries on a boat. (Don’t worry — the mercenaries are dicks. We know this because one of them didn’t treat his beautiful colleague, played by Adria Arjona, with respect.) He spends most of the movie keeping his bloodthirstiness at bay, especially when dead bodies start piling up and FBI agents (played by the dull duo of Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal) start pursuing him.
It’s kind of frustrating how Morbius is just a quick, grungy exercise in keeping the SSU — Sony’s Spider-Man Universe — running smoothly. Director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Life) and screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot) feverishly set up the conflict, with Morbius immediately doing battle — which, of course, means a lot of city property gets torn up — with his buddy Milo, who takes the serum and turns into a petulant, murderous douchebag. (Morbius continues Sony’s tradition of giving these superhumans archvillains who are really just bitter-ass brats.)
The execution is utterly transparent, creating this flimsy origin story so Leto’s living vampire can eventually become a flying, fugitive badass who — as the obligatory, post-credits scenes immediately establish — becomes an integral figure in the Spider-Man world. For an actor who’s notorious for doing too gotdamn much when he’s in character, Leto surprisingly keeps things chill with his performance. (I guess he learned it’s best to play it cool after showing his whole ass as Suicide Squad’s annoyingly extra Joker.) Even before he gets all ravenous, developing not only a taste for blood but also “the constitution of an Olympic athlete,” his Morbius is already a cocky, long-haired rebel. Yeah, Leto is pretty much Leto throughout this gotdamn thing.
There isn’t much there with Morbius, a lame, lazy actioner so forced and derivative that it feels like it came out in 2002 rather than 2022. But, hey, unlike those CGIed-to-hell Marvel movies, at least it looks like it was shot on actual soundstages.