Splatting onto the screen in a puddle of goofiness, self-awareness, screwball comedy antics and entertaining action set pieces, Venom: Let There Be Carnage fully embraces the quirkiness that was never fully realised in its predecessor. Bolstered by a host of riotous performances and a substantial upgrade in the CGI/motion capture department.
Written by Jack Ransom
The sequel to 2018’s box office hit, Venom: Let There Be Carnage sees Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) attempt to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution.
Charging through its messy 97 minute runtime, with very little in terms of character growth or depth outside of essential surface level necessity. Both Carnage and (especially) Shriek’s backstories are glossed over quickly and simply with very little genuine tangible investment (though they are both far more engaging than Riot/Drake). The backbone of the film is the relationship between Eddie & Venom, which is presented as a wacky, cartoonish married couple comedy…it absolutely works. Their arguments, insults and bromance carry the first act and make the admittedly bizarre and silly dialogue choices feel genuine and appropriately ridiculous.
Unfortunately the runtime does hinder some genuinely key aspects that really should have been focused upon and explained more. Most glaringly why and how Cletus’ obsession with Eddie manifested before this film and the post-credits of the previous film. How does he know about Eddie’s past? How does Eddie/Venom’s blood = red symbiote and why does Venom act surprised when it’s a “red one”? The latter isn’t essential, but I just wish the film was longer to delve into these aspects.
With Andy Serkis at the helm the visual effects and motion capture get a significant boost in quality. The action choreography is actually distinguishable and well shot. Carnage’s escape and his following Shriek outbreak are a riot (though, like many others would agree, it would have been all the more impactful with bloodier results) and the cathedral finale brawl is pure excessive chaos. The film also is very well shot throughout, with frequent Scorsese and Tarantino collaborator Robert Richardson at the helm. Dynamic lighting, movements and perfect page to screen graphic novel perfection truly hold the film up higher than expected.
Everyone is clearly having an absolute blast here and it is undeniably infectious. Tom Hardy’s double act is even more refined and eccentric than before. Woody Harrelson gleefully riffs on his Natural Born Killers with utter glee. With he and Naomie Harris chewing on every last bit of scenery in sight. Michelle Williams does fall into the damsel in distress role towards the finale, however she brings a snappy and quirky presence to Anne, with one scene between her, Venom and Mrs. Chen getting one of the biggest laughs out of me.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is an undeniably rushed affair and it is not without its shortcomings in the writing and character substantiality departments. It is, however, an incredibly fun time and certainly an improvement over its predecessor in every way. Excellently presented punch-ups, a wacky tone instantly and a great selection of enthusiastic performances.