After the success of the first film of the famous symbiote, Sony is putting all bets on its own cinematic universe filled with Spider-Man villains with the sequel Venom: There Will Be Carnage. With actor and motion-capture extraordinaire Andy Serkis behind the helm, Tom Hardy returns as Eddie Brock and his alter ego Venom as these two go up against the might of Woody Harrelson’s psychotic Cletus Kassidy and the Carnage he brings. The end result is what may possibly be the most absurd and craziest film coming off of this character.
It’s been more than a year since Venom and Eddie Brock bonded and became lethal vigilantes. Eddie’s reputation as a reporter has begun to rise thanks to his breaking story on serial killer Cletus Kassidy. Both Eddie and Venom go through some rough patches in their relationship as the two end up in the crosshairs of Cletus once an incident during his death sentence causes him to gain similar abilities as Eddie with a symbiote of his own calling itself Carnage. As both of them start wreaking havoc in the city, it is up to the dynamic duo of Venom and Eddie to put aside their differences to stop this new foe.
What makes the sequel work is the chemistry between Eddie and Venom. Just like in the previous film, we get to see these two guys banter with each other as they try to get along. Tom Hardy puts on a hilarious performance as both Eddie and his alien symbiote. The same can be said with Woody Harrelson’s performance as the psychotic Cletus Kassidy and Carnage. We get to see some of the evil sides of this character in the time that was given as we delve deep into Cletus’ backstory. We also see Venom and Carnage much more clearly in the film when they are on screen, so it isn’t completely lost where the audience can see them.
The film embraced a lot of its comedic elements that worked in some ways but not all the way. Some of the jokes landed while others didn’t stick as well, especially with the scenes between Eddie and Venom. Part of what makes Venom a compelling anti-hero is the darkness that comes with it, which we don’t get to see a lot of in here. The same can be said for Carnage as we never get to see the sinister side of the character from the comics, which could be due to the PG-13 rating. The first half of the film focuses more on their relationship as they learn to share a body, but sometimes the movie can spend too much time on them rather than the main plot. The final fight that takes place between Venom and Carnage works really well thanks to Andy Serkis’ direction as he is more of an expert when it comes to filming CGI sequences.
Some of the other plots in the film also don’t work well with the movie due to its shorter run time, which leaves no time for exposition and goes straight to the action. Naomi Harris’ character Shriek doesn’t get enough screen time so we don’t get to learn much about her relationship with Cletus as we would like. Shriek serves more as a plot device for the film’s main villain, so we don’t get to see much of how deep her and Cletus’ relationship is. Stephen Graham’s take on Detective Mulligan doesn’t offer much on where his character fits into the story besides his role in Cletus and Shriek’s past. It also seems like the film plays it safe with its villains, which can be a problem for diehard fans of these comic book characters and not going all the way with the darker elements they are known for. Michelle Williams had a big role in the last film as Eddie’s ex-fiancee Anne Weying, but she has much of a lesser presence in the sequel.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage finally brings Cletus and Carnage to the big screen as worthy adversaries against Eddie Brock and Venom. The film manages to embrace the absurdity and weirdness of these characters as we get to have some fun with the Lethal Protector. Andy Serkis puts in enough action to make this a fun thrill ride thanks to the addition of Woody Harrelson. The film does become less serious and becomes campier and cringey thanks to the humor and action. In the end, this is more of a love story between Venom and Eddie, which we can stand behind in this convoluted take on the character. With the way it ends, it’ll be curious to see where the film series will take Venom next.