2.5 out of 5 stars (decent)
I was a big fan of the original Venom. A mostly light, playful sci-fi action film with the occasional mildly disturbing image, it proved you could make a film about a Spider-Man villain without Spider-Man ever making an appearance. The best aspect of it was funnily antagonistic back-and-forth between lead character Eddie Brock and the alien that now shares his body. While this sequel is quite fun in spots, I have to wonder if the filmmakers forgot they were making an action comedy, not a psychological character study. When Venom: Let There Be Carnage plays to its strengths, it’s another rush of playful fun, but a darker tone and muddled storyline make it less than the sum of its bizarre parts.
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) has been successfully cohabitating with the symbiote known as Venom that shares his body. When he is asked to interview serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson doing a Hannibal Lecter impersonation), Kasady becomes obsessed with him for some reason (the best I can gather is that most prison guys don’t look as good as Tom Hardy), worsened when he gets part of the symbiote inside himself and escapes to wreck havoc on the city. Now Eddie, Venom, and his ex-girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams) must rally together to stop Kasady and save everyone.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is fast-paced fun for about 20 minutes, but then makes a grave error in taking its ludicrousness seriously. Woody Harrelson is a fun addition to any film, but his character overstays his welcome and takes screentime away from Brock and Venom’s odd couple shenanigans. Kasady has a girlfriend played by Naomie Harris, and while the performance is good, her character drags the movie down into a dark hole it shouldn’t have dug in the first place. Thankfully, most of the humor still works and the action (though overdone) is entertaining, but I wish the film could have retained the playfulness it started with throughout rather than mutating into yet another super blockbuster. Also, the end credits scene will either make you jump for joy or groan in annoyance. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is fun enough, but a convoluted story and needlessly darker approach make me hope this relationship ends here. See it on streaming.
Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Violence and Action, Some Strong Language, Disturbing Material, and Suggestive References