Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) Movie Review Tom Hardy

Venom: Let There Be Carnage delivers some more of what works - Eddie and Venom's dynamic - though everything around them remains quite messy.

The sequel to 2018’s solo origin story movie, Venom: Let There Be Carnage picks up with Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock living (mostly) symbiotically with the alien parasite known as Venom. When the first movie released in 2018, it wasn’t particularly well received by the majority of critics, though it did have its defenders, but went on to gross over $850 million at the worldwide box office, solidifying itself as a hit. For the sequel, Sony Pictures went in a slightly different direction, recruiting new-t0-the-franchise director Andy Serkis to helm, based on a script by Kelly Marcel, who worked out the story of the Venom sequel with Hardy. Venom: Let There Be Carnage delivers some more of what works – Eddie and Venom’s dynamic – though everything around them remains quite messy.

Picking up where the Venom post-credits scene left off, Venom: Let There Be Carnage sees Eddie Brock interviewing infamous serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), promising to print a message to the murderer’s fans in exchange for an in-depth exclusive interview. With the help of Venom, Eddie’s able to recover some of the bodies of Cletus’ victims and becomes a hero, while Cletus’ execution date is set. But the execution doesn’t go according to plan as Cletus has managed to get himself a symbiote of his own. He breaks free from prison, looking for Frances Barrison, aka Shriek (Naomie Harris), someone he knew from when he was younger. All the while, Eddie and Venom are having relationship troubles, disagreeing about how they should use their partnership, which is exacerbated when Eddie’s ex Anne (Michelle Williams) reveals she’s engaged to her new partner Dr. Dan Lewis (Reid Scott). Despite their disagreements, Eddie and Venom will have to find a way to defeat Cletus and Carnage together.

With so many things going on, and so many different storylines and character arcs, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is an incredibly overstuffed movie, especially with a brisk 97-minute runtime. Although Marcel’s script attempts to keep the film focused on Eddie and Venom’s relationship, there’s too much going on around them (and even too many outside influences on their dynamic), for it to be the true heart of the movie. For instance, much of the Venom sequel’s runtime is spent establishing Cletus and Shriek’s history and their relationship – so much so that they rival Eddie and Venom. And then with Carnage thrown into the mix, even more attention is put on the villains. But for all the time spent developing Cletus and Carnage’s characters, their connection to Eddie and Venom is rather underdeveloped. Instead, Anne’s engagement has more of an impact on Venom and Eddie and provides some closure to certain loose ends from the first movie. Altogether there are perhaps one too many ideas in Venom: Let There Be Carnage for any of them to feel fully fleshed out, which makes for an overall chaotic movie.

But there is still plenty of fun to be had with the film. Hardy proves once again how he excels in the role of a man who’s a host to an alien symbiote. Their dynamic is like others in Hollywood films – insofar as Hardy plays Eddie as the comedic straight man to Venom’s more weird and wild alien – while still being very unique. After all, Venom is an alien symbiote who wants to eat brains while living in Eddie’s body. What Let There Be Carnage loses a little bit is the real connection at the heart of Venom and Eddie’s relationship. In the first film, they bonded over being losers, but the sequel is perhaps a little too concerned with creating conflict, and then doesn’t properly resolve it. Still, Hardy’s portrayal of Eddie and Venom is delightful chaos and there’s enough of that fun dynamic to sustain the sequel. Plus, the additions of Harrelson and Harris, as well as the returns of Williams and Scott, all work together as a strong supporting cast, though it’s Peggy Lu as Mrs. Chen who is the biggest scene-stealer.

Ultimately, Venom: Let There Be Carnage suffers a bit under the weight of expectations. Not only is Marcel trying to give fans of the first movie more of the dynamic between Eddie and Venom while still giving them character arcs, but Serkis is tasked with adapting Venom’s most famous and beloved antagonist in Carnage and providing a well-developed villain story in the process. The result feels like it’s being pulled in one too many directions and ends up feeling very messy. Thankfully, part of the charm of the burgeoning Venom movie franchise is that mess. The first movie was silly and messy and fun, and the sequel is even more so (intentionally, which detracts from its charm just a bit), but it’s still a wildly entertaining ride.

As such, those who enjoyed the first Venom movie will do well with checking out Venom: Let There Be Carnage, while those who weren’t fans of the 2018 movie can skip this one. Those who haven’t been won over by Hardy’s flawed, but still charming, Venom movies may find something to like in Serkis’ film, particularly as the ending sets up an exciting future for the symbiote and his human host. The ending and the potential of Venom’s future may even wind up overshadowing Let There Be Carnage as a whole, which could be for the best. Even though the film is an action-packed comic book movie and Eddie and Venom’s relationship is still a compelling dynamic, it still has some major issues in its character and story development. Perhaps one day someone will get a Venom movie exactly right and, though today is not that day, Serkis, Marcel and Hardy deliver an entertaining spin on the continued adventures of Eddie Brock and his symbiote.

Source: Screenrant

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