This weekend, Venom: Let There Be Carnage hits theaters. The sequel to 2018’s smash hit Venom, is this time directed by Andy Serkis stepping into his first big-budget live-action directorial role. Once again, the story finds Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock down on his luck. His career is in the gutter, his chances of reconciling with Anne (Michelle Williams) are more dismal than ever, and to make matters worse, serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) has decided he and Eddie have a connection and refuses to talk to anyone else. On top of everything else, Eddie has to worry about the fact that San Francisco PD’s Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham) is suspicious about Kasady’s obsession with Eddie and the fact that there are a number of dead bodies in his wake. And all of this is unfolding around Eddie and Venom trying to find some balance between them in their new, symbiotic normal.
As is typical in Eddie’s life, things go from bad to worse when Kasady’s obsession with him turns from benevolence to malevolence. When he breaks out of prison–now fused with his own symbiote known as Carnage–it’s up to Eddie and Venom to hash out their differences and get their s**t together in order to stop Kasady, Carnage, and Kasady’s lover, Shriek (Naomie Harris) from killing everyone Eddie loves.
So how does the sequel hold up to the first movie? Does it maintain Venom‘s zany tilt or does it try to take itself seriously? Read on for three reasons to see Venom: Let There Be Carnage when it hits theaters this weekend.
1. Tom Hardy Is Just As Bonkers As He Was In The First Movie
For those who have perhaps worried that Tom Hardy wouldn’t be as frenetic and frantic in the sequel need not have worried. Once again, Hardy turns in an inspirationally unhinged performance, talking a mile a minute and always seeming on the knife’s edge of a complete breakdown. The Sony Venom movies have really embraced the idea of Eddie Brock being a loser, an agent of chaos who is his own worst enemy, a man prone to unintentionally destroying the lives of those around him as well as his own. The sequel addresses this aspect of Eddie’s self-destructive nature even more directly and Tom Hardy is more than up to the task of channeling that into his manic, unsettled performance.
It’s more than a little amazing when you realize that not only is Hardy filming his scenes across from either a fake head or a stunt double wearing a helmet, but he’s also the one providing the voice for Venom. One particularly inspired scene of joyful lunacy finds Venom on his own at a queer underground club, singing karaoke and waxing philosophic about how everyone needs to live their truth in overt analogy for coming out of the closet. Were it in a genre that was actually taken seriously by award voting bodies, Hardy’s performance might be considered noteworthy. As it stands, we’ll just have to settle for it being a hell of a lot of fun.
2. It’s Funny – Really Funny
Those heading into the theater expecting something cerebral clearly haven’t seen the first movie, because Venom: Let There Be Carnage doesn’t itself seriously whatsoever and that’s its magic. The first movie took a while to find its stride as Eddie Brock didn’t become aware that Venom had attached himself until more than halfway through the movie. This time, the odd couple dynamic hits the ground running, with Eddie and Venom bickering their way across the screen, neither of them willing to budge an inch or admit they need each other. It results in some excellent moments of off-the-wall banter and Eddie Brock looking like a maniac in public whenever he accidentally forgets he’s in public and yells at the symbiote’s voice in his head.
If there is one criticism here, it’s that the fast-paced back-and-forth between the two means that some of Venom’s retorts are indecipherable. This isn’t helped by Hardy’s growling, roughed-up delivery of Venom’s voice or his rapid-fire delivery of some of the symbiote’s dialogue, which is a shame, because the movie is already extremely funny. It would be even funnier, however, were all the dialogue clear. As it stands, there are still plenty of laughs afforded the audience thanks to Hardy’s over-the-top physical acting and Venom’s benevolently sociopathic worldview.
3. The Final Act And Knock-Down Fight
According to the superhero movie rule playbook, a movie is to spend two-thirds of its runtime developing the characters and progressing the story and the final third throwing it all out the window in favor of a big, CGI-soaked final boss fight. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is certainly no different, with the inevitable showdown happening in a cathedral and eight different characters involved in the final battle – nine if you count the unlucky priest. The boss fight takes up almost the entirety of the third act and yet, because of that, it works. The length of the battle means that the focus isn’t just on Carnage and Venom going at each other, but that other characters also get their chance to get in on the action.
That’s not to say there’s extended character development for all parties involved as there’s not. But almost every character gets their moment to shine in an interesting way, even hapless, normie Dan (Reid Scott), who rises to the occasion more than once in the sequel. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Venom fight without a church bell factoring into the equation as much as any character – and boy, does it ever.
In the end, Venom: Let There Be Carnage may not be for everyone. But for the people it is for, it goes hard for; audiences who liked the first movie will likely find even more to love about the sequel. So yes, it’s well worth seeing in theaters this weekend.
And P.S. – stick around for the mid-credits scene. Trust me. It’s one not to miss.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage hits theaters Friday, October 1.