Venom Let There Be Carnage is, to put it bluntly, incredibly silly. The sequel to Venom is a jumbled mess made up of random ideas plopped together in a 90-minute package. It would be unwatchable if it weren’t for the totally committed performance of Tom Hardy.
The actual plot is simple: Eddie Brock (Hardy) interviews serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) in jail, something goes wrong, and Cletus transforms into Carnage. Carnage slaughters dozens of humans leading to a showdown with Venom.
The filler inserted between the interview and the final CGI symbiote showdown is far less entertaining than you’d expect. The internal dialogue between Venom and his host body, Eddie Brock, worked well in the original film so the sequel ups the ante, making their running battle over the consumption of human heads substitute for character development.
Venom’s a petulant child and Eddie Brock seems incapable of handling life without him. That dynamic doesn’t serve the story well and definitely doesn’t help the film live up to the studio’s one line pre-release synopsis: “Tom Hardy returns to the big screen as the lethal protector Venom, one of Marvel’s greatest and most complex characters.” There’s nothing complex about this version of Venom whose wannabe stand-up comedian vibe, complete with an actual shark-jumping mic-drop moment, feels bizarre and out of place in this big-budget comic book adaptation that has the continuation of the character on screen (at least in this form) riding on its shoulders.
Michelle Williams and Reid Scott are given more to do in the sequel, and Naomie Harris is fine as Frances Barrison/Shriek. However, as much as I admire Woody Harrelson as an actor, he’s completely wrong for the role of Cletus as written in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. And, yes, I realize he was introduced as the character at the end of Venom. That doesn’t make the casting choice any less off. There’s a noticeable, distracting age difference between Harrelson and Harris that makes no sense given Cletus and Frances’ backstory and relationship.
The tone’s too goofy, the action’s decent but not ground-breaking, and the plot’s pretty ho-hum. Working in its favor, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is relatively short and Tom Hardy’s still perfect as Eddie Brock/Venom.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing material, action, intense sequences of violence, some strong language, and suggestive references
Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes
Directed By: Andy Serkis
Release Date: October 1, 2021