PG Score: 7/10
Venom: Let There Be Carnage was released in theaters on 10/1/21
Venom: Let There Be Carnage certainly lives up to its name as the rip-roaring thrill ride leaves a heap of comical chaos in its wake. Director Andy Serkis (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and Breathe) prioritizes playful banter coupled with high-octane fight scenes over a fully-developed story, and the result is a fast-paced action romp that never takes itself too seriously. Moreover, it is a notable improvement over its predecessor.
The follow-up to Venom (2018) follows Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his symbiotic counterpart as they work together to stop serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) after he transforms into the malicious Carnage.
Buddy Cop-Style Banter
While the battles and quips are the crowd-pleasers, the relationship between Eddie and Venom fuels the sequel from start to finish. Filled with amusing dialogue that hinges on the two characters constantly playing off each other, the back-and-forth is genuinely funny. Their squabbles are reminiscent of countless buddy-cop classics, and that dynamic is undoubtedly the highlight of Venom 2. The frequent humorous exchanges are indicative of the filmmaker’s willingness to learn from the first installment’s tonal ambivalence and wholeheartedly embrace the silliness this time around.
The brawls are satisfying and feature plenty of striking special effects. Vehicular destruction, buildings being leveled, and extraterrestrial melees are only a few of the types of mayhem audiences can expect. For all the wild set pieces that occur, it is a shame there are not more symbiote-on-symbiote showdowns. The film is far from light on action, so it is surprising this area is deficient.
Serkis gets efficient mileage out of the brisk runtime as Venom 2 never takes its foot off the gas. The 90-minute duration flies by as the director wastes no time in pushing towards the ultimate showdown. Although it moves quickly, the movie rarely feels rushed. Since the focus almost always remains on the quirky humor and electrifying combat, adopting a lighter tone fits with the abbreviated length.
The shortened runtime comes at a cost, however. Apart from the shortage of face-offs between the titular foes, the narrative is extremely thin. The lack of character development lessens the fighting’s impact and makes the movie feel somewhat incomplete. Plenty of material is introduced that is yet to be explored, so hopefully, this will be addressed in potential sequels.
Tom Hardy reprises his role as the troubled journalist and again provides the voice work for his carnivorous comrade. His ability to embody both alien and host simultaneously, especially during their outlandish conversations with one another, is remarkable. Like his depiction (s) of the Kray brothers in Legend, this is a shining example of the actor’s incredible versatility. He goes all in for every minute of his screen time, and his madcap mastery of both characters is extraordinary.
He is backed by an impressive roster that complements the anti-hero quite nicely. Woody Harrelson gives a chilling performance as the main antagonist, Cletus. The Oscar nominee’s portrayal of the sadistic killer is appropriately menacing, yet tame enough not to disrupt Venom 2’s established comedic feel. He is joined by his villainous significant other in Naomie Harris’ Frances Barrison aka Shriek. The Moonlight star supplies a satisfactory showing as the powerful evildoer. Michelle Williams returns as Anne Weyling, who is now Eddie’s ex-fiancé. The talented actress adds an intriguing layer to the Eddie/Venom coexistence. Stephen Graham rounds out the talented group as Detective Patrick Mulligan. Aided by his previous work in the police drama series, Line of Duty, he does not miss a beat as the hardened officer.
A Franchise-Boosting Film
Andy Serkis provides a welcomed overhaul to the original by fully leaning into the comedy and putting an emphasis on frenetic action sequences. Bolstered by an ardent performance from Tom Hardy and a star-studded supporting cast, the film never breaks stride. While Venom: Let There Be Carnage lacks the elements necessary to generate long-lasting appeal, its bite is still potent enough to be worth the price of admission.
PG Score: 7/10